If you asked yourself, ‘What are some of the things that people try to find joy and fulfillment in?’, provided you live in a somewhat developed part of the world, at some point you’d probably include in your list – things. Stuff. Possessions. Money. Gold. Shoes. Old Baseball cards. And so on. Despite Jesus’ instruction that life does not consist in the abundance of one’s possessions (Lk. 12:15), it’s not uncommon to find those who live like it does. Jesus’ words, you could say, are corroborated by Solomon’s experience. He was a man who had just about everything he wanted to have, and found that everything wasn’t enough. He wrote,
7 I acquired male and female servants, and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were in Jerusalem before me. 8a I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and of the provinces. (Eccl. 2:7-8a)
Solomon had unprecedented wealth. Some people think that if they only had a certain amount of money in their bank account, or a certain net worth, they would be satisfied and feel some sort of enduring significance. And again the preacher of Ecclesiastes is in essence telling the reader – if you think about this long enough, and if you exercise proper scrutiny, you’ll see that money-getting “under the sun” is vanity (Eccl. 2:11b).
The vanity includes the absence of satisfaction. Consider what Solomon wrote a little bit later on:
10 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. (Eccl. 5:10 ESV)
And the vanity is seen in the irony of the problems these supposed satisfiers bring. Per Solomon’s argumentation:
- When goods increase, they increase who eat them (5:11a); in other words – when you have more there can be more people who will want more from you.
- They can produce worry and anxiety by those who have it when they fear losing it (5:12).
- They can cause pain when they are lost unexpectedly or via bad business (5:13-14).
- The pursuit of money, the love of money, the fear of losing money, can be a means of much sorrow, sickness, and anger (5:17)
Learn a lesson from the preacher – money makes for a tormenting, anxiety-producing god [cf. 1 Tim. 6:9,10] that causes you to despise and mistrust the one true God (cf. Mt. 6:24). While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with money – it is amoral and can be used for either good or evil, for God’s glory or to feed man’s selfishness, etc., you are not fundamentally here on earth to enjoy money. And if money is your fundamental pursuit and joy, the true God is not your God. But if you embrace the true and highest reason for human existence – a subject to be developed in the forthcoming Why Am I Here (On Earth)? The Answer series, you can look joyfully embrace the responsibilities associated with your temporary financial stewardship in the ‘here-and-now’ knowing that one day you will receive the promised inheritance of all things as an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ (Col. 3:24; Rom. 8:17; 1 Cor. 3:21-23) .