THE GOOD LIFE
Lord, my affection is on You and not on riches. You “have come that
[I] may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
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.
For too many of us, the good life is deﬁned by an abundance of stuff, but, as actor Jim Carrey once remarked, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.” The Teacher would surely concur!
Consider some of the Teacher’s observations. The desire for money is addictive, like a drug, producing a craving that is never satisﬁed (5:10). As wealth increases, so do dependents (5:11). Money can’t purchase peace of mind, and the abundance of the rich may even result in insomnia (5:12)—stemming perhaps from overindulgence, clogged arteries or worries about the stock market! Riches may lure people into vice (5:13): “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim. 6:9,10a). Wealth does not last, for even if we never lose it (5:14), death compels us to leave it behind (5:15). In a nutshell, money can buy stuff, but not satisfaction (6:1–6). The Teacher ruefully declares, “We work to feed our appetites; meanwhile our souls go hungry” (6:7, The Message).
Jesus warned, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15). The truly rich are those who have acknowledged their poverty of spirit and have experienced life in Jesus. Yes, life’s good when we embrace, employ and enjoy the gifts of life, while also gratefully recognizing their Giver (5:19). As the Teacher declares, “God deals out joy in the present, the now. Brooding over how long we might live is pointless” (5:20, The Message).
Reflect on 1 Timothy 6:17–19. Are you living trustfully, intentionally, gratefully and generously, so that you may “take hold of the life that is truly life”?
Lord, grant us perfect vision so that we can perceive and appreciate what is truly important in this life: the eternal.