Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ecclesiastes 5: Money No Enough

Eccl 5:10-20 Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers! People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich seldom get a good night's sleep. There is another serious problem I have seen under the sun. Hoarding riches harms the saver. Money is put into risky investments that turn sour, and everything is lost. In the end, there is nothing left to pass on to one's children. We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can't take our riches with us. And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind. Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry. Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past. (New Living Translation)

The New Living Translation is self-explanatory! It describes the futility of wealth without God. The Preacher makes the following observations about wealth and money:
  • Money No Enough ("Those who love money will never have enough.") The title of an early movie by Jack Neo sums it all up: "Money No Enough". When we think of how much the average Singaporean already has in terms of cash and assets, we should be quite contented, but yet for many, money is always "no enough". They are always wanting more. When they have landed a four-figure salaried job, they feel "poor" compared to someone with a five-figure salaried job. Then when they have a five-figure salaried job, they feel "poor" compared to someone with a six-figure salaried job. Of course, money is always not enough when we love Money, rather than God. 
  • Money Cannot Buy Happiness ("How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness!"): When the Beatles yelled their song in the '60s to the world, "Can't Buy Me Love", many missed the message. We think we can buy love--especially our spouses and children's love by giving them more money. We think that we can buy ourselves some happiness by receiving their love in exchange for cash. Or we think that if we save up enough money to buy the next branded good, or upgrade to next condo or landed property or own the next technological gadget or the next exotic vacation, we will be happy. But usually, the "happiness" does not last more than a few weeks.
  • More Money, More Expenses ("The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it."): The more money we have, the more people we will attract who will help us to lavish them with expensive free gifts. Or we will indulge in impulsive purchases of luxury goods that we put aside later on. The more we have, the more we will spend. And we end up feeling the same: "Money no enough".
  • More Money, More Worries ("But the rich seldom get a good night's sleep."): The more things we possess, the more things we have to worry about losing--to competitors, robbers, thieves, and embezzlers. Instead of focusing on living, we focus on protecting our wealth from the greedy bankers and the roller-coaster stock market: "Money is put into risky investments that turn sour, and everything is lost." 
  • Money Useless in the Afterlife ("We can't take our riches with us."): The Chinese is so money-minded that they have mock-ups of Hell Bank Notes and Credit Cards to burn at funerals of loved ones, hoping that when they get down to Hell, they can use some of this money. And these are serious people who are doing this. Yet we know all know that the money we have in our earthly banks cannot be transferred to any Hell Banks (if they exist). If we are billionaires, so what? We can't even bring a single dollar with us when we die and  meet God face to face. So, the Preacher says, "We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can't take our riches with us...People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind."
However, when we have a proper attitude towards wealth and money, we can actually enjoy our days here on earth--while it lasts. So, the Preacher says: "Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past." 

For such a happy life to be possible, we need three things: 
(1) Acknowledge our life and our current work as God's gift: "the short life God has given them and to accept their lot in life"; don't envy others' position in life. 
(2) Enjoy whatever wealth and health God has given us: "to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it". Instead of griping about what we don't have, we should be thankful for what we do have. It may not be much, but at least we have good health to enjoy it.
(3) Enjoy the present, don't regret the past: "God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past." There is so much to live for today to waste our time regretting our past. We can't do anything about our past, but we can redefine our future by living today to its fullest--and enjoy doing it!

Father, You sent Your Son Jesus Christ to bring us abundant life that is full of joy and thanksgiving. May You help us give thanks for every blessing we already have, rather than feeling envious about what we don't have. Help us also to focus on today, to make this the best day of our life. Amen.



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