Wise King Solomon was inspired to write: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
Regardless of what we do, we can do it well or poorly. We can do it heartily or grudgingly. The way in which we do things is up to us. It is a matter of choice.
Of course before we can do things well we must learn how to do them. This is why obtaining an education is so important. We must be taught how to complete even simple chores like making a bed, preparing a meal, washing and drying dishes, doing the laundry or caring for pets. When parents show their children how to perform these tasks, they teach by example not only the way in which the tasks must be done, but also the attitude that goes into performing them neatly, efficiently, effectively and cheerfully.
It is important that parents teach not only the value of hard work, but the importance of doing quality work. This means that parents must be willing to correct their children when a job is done poorly (or is left undone), and it can require a great deal of patience from parents who must give encouragement and show appreciation for their children’s efforts as they learn.
Learning comes about in many ways. One of the main factors in opening up possibilities in a young person’s life is the quality and quantity of education received. Our spiritual education teaches us the fundamental values of “how to live.” Yet we must also learn “how to earn a living.” Consider that the very best craftsmen, engineers, doctors, custodians and teachers all received extensive instruction before they became successful in their respective fields. No matter what we hope to do in life, we must first obtain education.
Of course, just having a diploma or certificate hanging on the wall does not ensure that we know it all. Continuing education is important, as new tools become available and new techniques are invented or discovered to help improve quality and efficiency in various fields of endeavor. Staying current in one’s profession is vital for those who want to do their best in the fast-moving world in which we live.
And it takes more than education to be successful. Merely knowing how to do something is not enough; we must also have a strong work ethic. Work is effort applied toward accomplishing something. And, regarding work, we can learn a thing or two from the honeybee and the ant. A honeybee must visit about 125 clover heads to make one gram of honey. That means it takes three million trips to make one pound of honey. And the ant? We read: “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:6–8). There are more than 12,000 species of ants, many of which can carry loads up to 20 times their body weight. If a typical second grader were as strong as an ant, he or she would be able to pick up a small automobile! Certainly, honeybees and ants know how to work, and they work hard. And anyone who has missed the joy of hard work has missed something very important.
Another essential aspect of doing things with all our might is learning to do quality work. On my wall hangs a picture with a quote inspired by the words of 19th century art critic John Ruskin: “Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort.” Industrialist John D. Rockefeller Jr. said it this way: “The secret of success is to do the common things uncommonly well.” Regardless of the tasks we must complete, we must develop the habit of doing them well. Nancy Hanks said, “My parents always told me that people will never know how long it takes you to do something. They will only know how well it is done.” We often face limitations regarding the time and money we can allot to a particular project, but this should not keep us from doing the best job we can with the resources we do have at our disposal. Whether we are sweeping the floor or building a skyscraper, stacking firewood or sculpting a masterpiece, we should learn to do our work with all our might!
The Apostle Paul urged the brethren at Colosse, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” (Colossians 3:23). He understood that God is always watching—even when no one else is—and that we should do our work as though we are working for God. And he assured the Hebrews: “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister” (Hebrews 6:10). Yes, God will reward those who live this way!
Jesus Christ cares very much about how we treat those around us. Notice what He expects of us as His followers: “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory… Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me’” (Matthew 25:31–40). Are we going “all out” in service to others? Christ expects us to!
When you work, or play—or worship God—put your heart into it! Employers look for hardworking, honest and dependable people who have the ability to do the jobs they are looking to fill. Coaches look for players who are willing to give it their all—during practice and in the competition—and who are devoted to honing their skills. God, too, is looking for these qualities—in those to whom He will give various positions of responsibility in the soon-coming Kingdom of God!
In the very last chapter of the Bible, Jesus Christ assures us: “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work” (Revelation 22:12). Everything we do in this present life contributes to the strengthening or weakening of our character. Life is short. So, work hard. Play hard. Rest when you must. And, whatever you do, learn to do it with all your might!