Pot of Gold

(cc) Jeremy Schultz – Flickr

[PART 6 OF 12]

King Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes to chronicle his quest for meaning and purpose in life. What is it that makes life worth living? What is out there that is worth waking up for every day?

How about money? Wealth and riches are powerful forces in our world. People have lied for money, cheated for money, betrayed their country for money, even killed for money.

We’ve all heard the clichés:

“Money isn’t everything.”

“Money can’t buy happiness.”

There is much truth in those old sayings. But when you get right down to it, I don’t know anyone who wants to be poor. Nobody likes being broke.

Perhaps money isn’t everything, but most people living in squalor will tell you that poverty ain’t all that great, either. Maybe money can’t buy happiness, but it can sure help pay the bills that pile up every month! And poverty doesn’t guarantee happiness any more than money does.

If anyone was in a position to comment on the meaning of wealth, it was Solomon. He was the richest man alive at that time. He could literally buy anything he wanted. That’s gotta be worth something, right?

Listen to Solomon as he describes his limitless wealth and all the wonderful things he was able to provide for himself as a result.

“I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well — the delights of the heart of man. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor.” (Ecclesiastes 2:4-10)

Wow! I can’t even imagine that kind of wealth. I’d love to just get caught up on the mortgage and pay off the medical bills. This guy had multiple houses, planted vineyards and gardens, built parks and reservoirs, had servants and personal entertainers; and no matter how much he spent, the money just kept pouring in.

Solomon never worried about having enough money at the end of the month to pay the electric bill. He never had to call the bank to ask for an extension on his car loan. He never sat up late at night in tears, wringing his hands in frustration, because the money was gone and the pantry was empty. He never had to wonder how his family was going to make it through the next few days until he got his next paycheck.

Surely there must have been a great sense of satisfaction in being wealthy. Surely Solomon was able to rest easy at night, knowing that there was nothing he needed that he could not provide. Surely the mere absence of the frustrations that go hand-in-hand with being broke, provided at least a certain measure of peace.

“Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.“ (Ecclesiastes 2:11)

In the final analysis, even the richest man in the world did not find satisfaction in wealth. Money and possessions made him physically comfortable, but did not fill the emptiness. It was all meaningless. Nothing was gained. It was worthless!

But why, Solomon? Why isn’t money the answer?

“Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10)

If money is your primary pursuit, you will never be able to accumulate enough of it to be satisfied. But beyond the simple failure to give true meaning to one’s life, there is also real danger in pursuing money.

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:10)

It’s not the money itself that is evil. Money is just money. It has no inherent moral value. It is the LOVE of money that is a problem. You see, when money and possessions become too important, a person’s values and priorities begin to change. What might have seemed wrong before, doesn’t seem so bad any more if it produces money or possessions. That’s why people end up cheating their customers, lying to the IRS, even robbing banks and stealing from other people.

When a person begins loving money and using people, rather than loving people and using money, he has crossed over to the dark side.

Money and possessions, Solomon says, are completely and utterly meaningless.
Paul O'Rear Signature

This is Part 6 in a 12-part series entitled “The Meaning of Life”.
Part 1: “A Little Birdie Told Me
Part 2: “Oreo Cookies and the Meaning of Life
Part 3: “Introducing King Solomon
Part 4: “King Solomon and the Oreos
Part 5: “Something Worth Waking Up For
Part 6: “Cha-Ching!”
Part 7: “Wisdom, Hard Work, Achievement
Part 8: “Life is Good
Part 9: “Turn! Turn! Turn!
Part 10: “Injustice
Part 11: “Sorrow and Joy
Part 12: “The Conclusion

NEXT: “Wisdom, Hard Work, Achievement

Photo Credit:

  1. Pot of Gold, by Jeremy Schultz (Flickr), Creative Commons License

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2 thoughts on “Cha-Ching!

  1. Paul,

    I was online reading Alyssa’s blog to see what she’s been writing about, and I linked onto yours while online. I just read this entry about Solomon’s view on wealth and just want to say great thoughts!! Alyssa and I went through the Crown Financial Bible Study with a small group at church earlier this year. And, it was one of the best Bible studies we’ve ever been involved with. Most of all, it provided such a great perspective on money, possessions, stewardship, etc. First and foremost we were reminded – God owns it ALL, not us. It’s not OUR house, OUR car, OUR investments, OUR income, etc. It is ALL His, and we are simply here to be stewards – kind of like in the parable of the talents. I’ve heard a couple of speakers recently on this topic as well, and I’ll leave you with 2 thoughts that have really impacted me. The first is an analogy that we are God’s FedEx men – he blesses us with material possessions not just to use for ourselves, but to pass on to others in this world to demonstrate His love for mankind. The FedEx guy doesn’t own the packages he is given – his job is to deliver the packages to others. Our money is like the FedEx packages – we don’t own it, it’s given to us to deliver to others on God’s behalf. Second thought – where is your treasure?? Matt 6:19-21 do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, store up treasures in heaven. Where your treasure is your heart will be also (paraphrased). If you knew you had a large sum of money waiting for you if you traveled all the way around the world, wouldn’t you want to move towards it each day rather than away from it. One thing that is guaranteed in America is that the mortality rate is 100%. If your treasure is on earth, each day of your life you are moving AWAY from your treasure. But, if your treasure is truly in Heaven, then each day that passes you are moving closer to your treasure. Thanks for this great post! Love you and hope to see you soon!!

  2. By the way, one thing I forgot to add – the world is learning right now what it feels like if your faith and hope is in your possessions – huge banks and investment firms going bankrupt around the world, stock markets declining in value 30% to 40% over just a few weeks time, trillions of dollars in retirement funds vanished, etc. With the global financial crisis that we are in the midst of, God is reminding us that it is foolish to put your trust solely in wealth, assets, and investments because they can vanish very quickly. And, if your faith and hope aren’t based in God, then what’s left when the assets vanish??