In Ecclesiastes 4:5-6, we see humanity divided into three categories as to how they approach work. These categories are explained via three hand postures or positions that show us how each particular group views work:
(1) The Fool. His posture is described as having his “hands folded.” He opts out of work; he folds his hands—or maybe even his arms—rather than use them to earn his bread. And we see this sort of entitlement mentality more and more in our society. Even the church in Thessalonica fell prey to this delusion. And Paul rebukes them, “For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living” (2 Thes 3:11-12). And the preacher lets us know that a lazy, hand-folding, fool will end up eating his own flesh (he’s destructive to himself).
(2) The Godly. His posture is described as “a handful of quietness.” His hand is extended outward, ready to receive his day’s wage. And he will go home in quietness, with a peaceful contentment.
(3) The Greedy Workaholic. His posture is described as “two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.” He is so consumed with both his work and the reward that he so desperately wants and feels that he deserves, that he has his hands cupped in order that he might get as much as humanly possible. This is the guy that opts for the Big Gulp when all he really needs is a medium.
The preacher would have you know that it’s better to just get half and have time to quietly enjoy life, rather than get it all and find you were striving for wind. It seems the middle ground is the godly ground. The fool, does nothing, folds his hands and gets nothing, and thereby starves; the greedy workaholic, puts all of his eggs into his work basket, banking on that being his way to find contentment and worth, and ends up losing the only thing in life worth having: a life lived in quiet service to God.