Ecclesiastes 5:10-20 TNIV
Those who love money never have enough;
those who love wealth are never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless.
As goods increase,
so do those who consume them.
And what benefit are they to the owners
except to feast their eyes on them?
The sleep of laborers is sweet,
whether they eat little or much,
but the abundance of the rich
permits them no sleep.
I have seen a grievous evil under the sun:
wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners,
or wealth lost through some misfortune,
so that when they have children
there is nothing left for them to inherit.
Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb,
and as everyone comes, so they depart.
They take nothing from their toil
that they can carry in their hands.
This too is a grievous evil:
As everyone comes, so they depart,
and what do they gain,
since they toil for the wind?
All their days they eat in darkness,
with great frustration, affliction and anger.
This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for people to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives people wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their lives, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.
My thoughts -
We've got a lot going on in our lives right now, my family and I. I guess you could say we're in transition. My wife quit her job a few years ago to go back to school. This cut our family income in half. I was surprised to learn then how much we could live without. Now she is nearing graduation and will be looking for a new job and it will be my turn to go back.
But what kind of job will she get? Will I try to continue to work while pursuing the degree I should have finished ages ago? How much do we need to make to live how we want to? These are all questions that shape our lives now and in the immediate future. But it all comes down to this. What is important to us? What is the meaning of life? Our lives?
Scholars don't agree on the authorship of Ecclesiastes but I like the idea that Solomon wrote it. If it wasn't Solomon (and the argument against comes down to language and terminology used in it not necessarily being from the period Solomon lived in, which is well beyond my knowledge) it was someone like Solomon.
This is a wise, wealthy, and powerful man looking back on his life and reflecting. Rather disturbing then that he declares all things as "meaningless" or "vanities". Everything he worked for, all of his labor, all of his knowledge and wisdom, all of it is meaningless, all acquired in vain.
Here he describes something I think a lot of us observe. Those who love money don't seem to enjoy it. They always want more. As their wealth increases they consume (and it consumes them) more. And what do they have to show for it? Just more stuff to look at.
We have a disease of stuff. We want more stuff, new stuff, shiny stuff. Stuff that distracts us. Stuff that amuses us. Stuff that fills our lives with satisfaction, at least for a while. And when it fails to do that we replace it with more stuff.
We are never content. Never satisfied. We never have enough. Once we allow wealth, status, and stuff to define us then we can only desire it more. We are worth what we are worth, financially. And who doesn't always want to be worth more?
I can't dissect all of this as much as I'd like. That would take forever. I may have to come back to this and do a series of posts on Ecclesiastes. But Solomon (or a Solomon-like author) goes on to say that the sleep of a laborer is sweet. This is true no matter how much he has. Those who can take satisfaction in their work, in their lot in life, and in what God has given them are far better off than the rich who do not enjoy what they have been blessed with.
This is a consideration for my family as we are in this time of transition. If we blindly set our goal to acquire more wealth and status we may well enter into a cycle of dissatisfaction. We don't need a lot to live on. We are happy how we are. We have been blessed with wonderful lives, a wonderful family, three wonderful children. We don't have a perfect life. That's not available here. But we have enough.
God has blessed us beyond measure and we need to be (and are) satisfied with what we have been blessed with. We are worth so much more than our bottom line. We are loved by God. That makes us priceless. And we find satisfaction in that blessing.