“I thought to myself, ‘Come now, I will try self-indulgent pleasure to see if it is worthwhile.’ But I found that it also is futile” (Ecclesiastes 2:1, New English Translation).
Many people live with the belief that “things” make us happy. The more things we possess, the happier we become. They devote their lives to accumulating more and more, always chasing happiness through what they possess.
Solomon speaks of this in Ecclesiastes chapter 2. He built houses, planted vineyards, constructed pools, added livestock, and amassed money and valuable treasures. He brought in musicians to entertain, and he surrounded himself with beautiful women. Verse 10 says, “I did not restrain myself from getting whatever I wanted.” It would seem he had it all.
Chasing the Wind
Solomon reflected on all he had achieved, and came to this conclusion:
“Yet when I reflected on everything I had accomplished and on all the effort that I had expended to accomplish it, I concluded: ‘All these achievements and possessions are ultimately profitless—like chasing the wind! There is nothing gained from them on earth’” (verse 11).
I doubt anyone reading this devotion will ever amass wealth as great as Solomon’s, yet we often yearn for more— a bigger house, a newer car, nicer clothes, and exotic vacations. But in the end, will any of this bring us the happiness and satisfaction we seek?
Our problem is expecting the temporary things of this earth to fill that emptiness inside us which longs for the eternal. Luke 12:15 reminds us that life does not consist in the abundance of our possessions. When balanced against our eternal soul, worldly goods have zero value. Anything we accumulate here, stays here. We cannot take it with us. And why would we want to? When compared to the glories of heaven, earth’s riches look like garage sale leftovers.
“Now godliness combined with contentment brings great profit. For we have brought nothing into this world and so we cannot take a single thing out either” (I Timothy 6:6-7, NET).
Changing Our Focus
Instead of seeking an often-elusive happiness, we should instead strive to attain contentment. Rather than looking at all the things we don’t have, focus on the things we do possess. The apostle Paul got it right when he said:
“I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing” (Philippians 4:12, NET).
What is the secret Paul learned?
“I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me” (verse 13).
Paul’s abundance—and ours—is based on our relationship with God and our hope of an eternity spent with Him.
Prayer: Remind me, Lord, that this life is temporary, and its riches pass away. The only thing we can take with us when we leave here are those eternal treasures we’ve laid up with You. Help me to focus on finding contentment with the blessings You’ve given me. I trust You to supply everything I need. My life is in Your hands, and that is more than enough for me.