Most of us, including myself, place a far greater value on possessions than we should. The Bible has a lot to say about possessions, namely our attitudes toward them and what we do in order to obtain and keep them. Material possessions are not bad, in fact they are necessary for our survival, but we should be very careful about how we allow them to influence, control and even enslave us. If possessions are dangerous, but we must have them to survive, how can we protect ourselves, or at least reduce the danger?
In the first part of Ecclesiastes 5, Solomon pointed out that amassing possessions was foolish because one could lose them to God and/or the government. In the last eleven verses of chapter 5, he points out that even if one gets to keep possessions, they will never, ever satisfy. They will never deliver what you think they will or what the advertisers promise. Solomon begins in verse 10 by pointing out that those who love money will never have enough. “A little more” is always the goal. Money can never satisfy us. We are created to be satisfied by God alone. Without the divine presence in our heart we cannot be satisfied. It is a great tragedy that we often allow our love of and our pursuit of money to keep God out of our lives. In verse 11, Solomon points out that when our wealth increases, we should be ready for the vultures to descend. New and old acquaintances alike will find their way to our doorstep; each one with their hands out, ready to take. A study of modern-day lottery “winners” is very eye-opening and instructive. I place “winners” in quotes because there is really no such thing as a “winner” in the lottery, but that is a subject for another time.
Solomon goes on to point out in verse 12, that when our wealth multiplies, so does our anxiety level. When we gain wealth, we find new things to worry about. We would sleep better without the excess money. Money is not the problem. The love of money, as pointed out by Jesus in Luke12:15 and Paul in 1 Timothy 6:10, is the real problem. Do not miss the truth in verse 13. Hoarded riches harm the owner. Knowledge of this truth would better the lives of many of us. “Riches” is a relative term. One does not have to have to be in the top ten percent of the wealthiest to be guilty of this. We have all seen people, in all walks of life, sometimes ourselves, who have been harmed by hoarding.
In verses 15-16, Solomon reminds us that we brought nothing with us when we came into the world and we will take nothing out of the world when we leave. That is a sobering thought. No matter how hard we work, no matter how much we earn, no matter how much we save, we will not take any of it with us. However, he does not close with that gloomy thought. In verses 18-20, he points out a glorious truth. Our Creator is a good and merciful God. It is God who gives wealth and possessions. It is God who permits and empowers us to enjoy wealth and possessions. It is God who enables us to accept our level of wealth and be happy in our labor. It is God who keeps us so busy enjoying the good gifts He has given us, that we have no time to be dissatisfied, unhappy because of what we do not have. There is much truth in the t-shirt slogan, “I’m too blessed to be stressed.” Remind yourself of that fact hourly. Only God can satisfy your soul. Find out how from a Bible obeying church.