ECCLESIASTES 2:9–11 – So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
THEME OF THE DAY. DON’T GET CAUGHT UP IN STUFF. I see this older couple a few times a month. They don’t come to my church but my engagements with them are through a ministry of my church; our clothing store from which we give away free items to those in need. I have a further connection. It is military. The elderly man was in the Marine Corps. His son served in the Navy and retired as I did – a Master Chief Petty Officer. My friend reminds me of that every time I see him. He smiles, “Hey, fellow Master Chief.” It is a warm exchange. He professes to be a believer as does his wife. My exchanges with them are always pleasant. Today was one of them. They told me how they had moved and got rid of a lot of stuff that had accumulated over the years. I guess we might call this “downsizing”. And when it comes to “stuff”, I think each of us knows what I mean. I have stuff. Too much stuff. Maybe you do also. In today’s scripture, King Solomon also had a lot of stuff. Too much stuff. But King Solomon had another issue. He invested in stuff. He clung to stuff. He tried to find pleasure in stuff. He withheld no stuff from himself. He worked hard to get stuff. And then, he was awakened to the truth about stuff; it is vanity, a striving after wind, and simply a waste of time, money, and space. Solomon’s late life revelation of the vanity in this world is a powerful lesson of warning for all of us. It may boil down to the theme of today’s nugget – don’t get caught up in stuff. But to get to the place Solomon did toward the vanity of stuff, we need to do a little self-examination to see if we are caught up in stuff. Without knowing our problem, we will never reach the solution. So, two questions to see if stuff is a problem in our lives.
First, is our attention on things of this passing world so absorbing of our time and energy we are neglecting eternal and spiritual things? To be more specific, do we find ourselves more invested in the “good life of stuff” in this world, like comfort, acquiring things, with a goal to “kick back” and take it easy in our latter years? Don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying “Plan wisely for retirement”, but we retire from earthly employment, not the spiritual life. If we are way more concerned about the stuff in this life than our spiritual walks with the Lord Jesus, we are caught up in stuff; stuff that is fading away and worthless in the scheme of eternity.
The second question is closely related to the first but away from purely physical stuff – Are we investing our time, energy, and resources in what matters most and lasts forever? The “what matters most” is people. People last forever. Physical stuff does not. And God wants us, even commands us, to build treasures in heaven by investing in this life in what is the treasure of His heart – His people. We are to be pouring ourselves into the lives of other believers in spiritual ministry of encouragement and growth in Christ. And should our time be more on the passing world of stuff and not the eternal world of people, then we have not learned the lessons from King Solomon – stuff is vanity. It doesn’t really matter. Start making people your chief investment in life, not stuff. Your joy, my joy is at stake and so is the building up of God’s people in the faith.
Remember, stuff fades. It is vanity. Be wise and invest in what is the most important issue with our God and eternity – people. We won’t have regrets like King Solomon who gave himself to stuff, not people.
PRAYER: “Father, forgive me when I place more of my heart on the stuff of this life and not in the eternal next life.”
QUOTE: “Nothing in this world lasts but people. Isn’t it more wise to invest in what will last instead of what will not?”