HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?
Thank you, God, for all your good gifts.
Read Ecclesiastes 5:8 – 6:12
Riches Are Meaningless
8 If you see the poor oppressed in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still. 9 The increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields.
10 Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless.
11 As goods increase,
so do those who consume them.
And what benefit are they to the owners
except to feast their eyes on them?
12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
whether they eat little or much,
but as for the rich, their abundance
permits them no sleep.
13 I have seen a grievous evil under the sun:
wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners,
14 or wealth lost through some misfortune,
so that when they have children
there is nothing left for them to inherit.
15 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.
16 This too is a grievous evil:
As everyone comes, so they depart,
and what do they gain,
since they toil for the wind?
17 All their days they eat in darkness,
with great frustration, affliction and anger.
18 This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person 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. 19 Moreover, when God gives someone 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. 20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.
6 I have seen another evil under the sun, and it weighs heavily on mankind: 2 God gives some people wealth, possessions and honor, so that they lack nothing their hearts desire, but God does not grant them the ability to enjoy them, and strangers enjoy them instead. This is meaningless, a grievous evil.
3 A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. 4 It comes without meaning, it departs in darkness, and in darkness its name is shrouded. 5 Though it never saw the sun or knew anything, it has more rest than does that man— 6 even if he lives a thousand years twice over but fails to enjoy his prosperity. Do not all go to the same place?
7 Everyone’s toil is for their mouth,
yet their appetite is never satisfied.
8 What advantage have the wise over fools?
What do the poor gain
by knowing how to conduct themselves before others?
9 Better what the eye sees
than the roving of the appetite.
This too is meaningless,
a chasing after the wind.
10 Whatever exists has already been named,
and what humanity is has been known;
no one can contend
with someone who is stronger.
11 The more the words,
the less the meaning,
and how does that profit anyone?
12 For who knows what is good for a person in life, during the few and meaningless days they pass through like a shadow? Who can tell them what will happen under the sun after they are gone?
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat are you longing for right now?
When John D Rockefeller, the USA’s very first billionaire, was asked how much money is enough, he responded, “Just a little more!” This echoes 5:10. It is a familiar attitude in today’s society too. So many people sacrifice health and relationships in their battle to gain wealth.
I spent years living among some of Europe’s poorest people, in Romania. Many were desperately striving for riches and possessions just like the wealthy. But I also knew those who, as the Teacher describes, were able to get a good night’s sleep (5:12) knowing that they had done an honest day’s work and provided for their families.
It is not the amount of money that is important, so much as our attitude towards it. Paul says that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Money itself is neutral. But striving for more of it or holding tightly onto it can lead to self-destruction.
Actually, John D Rockefeller was known not only for his wealth and success in business, but also for his generosity. He gave away most of his fortune, using it to support a wide variety of causes. He was able both to enjoy his wealth as a gift from God (5:19) and, by giving so much away in his lifetime, to avoid the Teacher’s great fear of not knowing what will happen to his fortune after his death.
Are you content with what you have or constantly yearning for more? Take time throughout your day to thank God for the things you do have.
Lord, help me to be content and generous with what I have.
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