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 or even control us. The Bible speaks a great deal about greed and covetousness. In Ecclesiastes 5, Solomon examines the foolishness of allowing material possessions to ensnare us. We have all seen people, including ourselves, fall victim to this. If possessions are dangerous, but we must have them to survive, how can we protect ourselves? Solomon sheds much light on the subject in Ecclesiastes 5:10-20.
In the first part of chapter 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. He begins in verse 10 by pointing out that those who love money will never have enough. “A little more” is always the goal. First we love money; then we love more money. Money can never satisfy us. We are created to be satisfied only by God Himself. 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 open wide, 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 that we never knew existed. We would sleep better without the excess money. It is true that the absence of money; the inability to pay bills, will cause us to lose sleep also. Most of the time, that problem can be traced back to a mismanagement of money, under-working and over-spending to be precise. The same is true for having too much money. The worry caused by that can be traced back to mismanagement also: covetousness and greed to over-acquire and under-giving to be precise. 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.” Only God can satisfy your soul.