This is what I have seen to be good: it is fitting to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of the life God gives us; for this is our lot. Likewise all to whom God gives wealth and possessions and whom he enables to enjoy them, and to accept their lot and find enjoyment in their toil—this is the gift of God. For they will scarcely brood over the days of their lives, because God keeps them occupied with the joy of their hearts.
Leave it to Solomon to give us some perspective! “…the few days of the life God gives us!”
This passage from Ecclesiastes provides some insight into an extremely tricky balancing act that all of us play as American Christians. As Americans, we are some of the wealthiest people in the world with access to incredible social mobility and financial opportunity. As Christians, we know that everything belongs to God and we have a moral imperative to charity. We know that our days are short, but we must be financially responsible. How do we balance the importance of providing for our families with the command to trust God in all things and not to hoard up wealth? Should our churches be multi-million dollar facilities that redistribute wealth to the community? Should we revoke all possessions and join a monastery?
God wants us to live with Him as the center of everything. He wants us to live in joy. Solomon encourages us to enjoy the blessings that we have, with the understanding that our days are extremely short. It’s useless to run after enormous wealth because we’re going to die anyway! It’s also useless to live in misery and sit around like a sack of potatoes. In other words, neither wealth nor poverty should be idols that we worship. Debt can be just as much of an idol as wealth if it’s all we think about from the moment we rise to the moment we sleep. We are to live simply (eat, drink, work) and rejoice in all that we do because God is our provider.
Whatever our blessings, whatever our lot, we are to live in joy because all blessings come from God. We honor Him in our toil and in our celebration. Solomon does not give us a specific number for our savings account or a specific monthly mortgage payment that is holier than another. Instead, he directs us to make God the center of our lives and to rejoice no matter what our financial situation. Thinking about money is inevitable. Rich or poor, we’re going to spend our lives making decisions that revolve around money. But our wealth or lack of it cannot be the most powerful influence in our lives. That distinction belongs to God.
So, Solomon’s advice is today’s takeaway: live simply and find joy.