This time of year is a wonder, where nature gives way to Fall and we prepare to gather the bounty of God’s good gifts. We praise Him for His glory, particularly the salvation only Christ affords us all.
A reading of Ecclesiastes 5:10-20 can turn into a moral teaching of living prudently. The wisdom literature of Israel is also the Scripture for Christians, as we learn to value things as gifts of God for our good, not our worship. “Whoever loves money never has enough” (Eccl 5:10). The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). The temptation is to make things of lesser value of more worth, to turn what is second or third in value into first place in our hearts. Such love is to be shown to God alone (First Commandment) and as His love has been revealed to us in Christ Jesus our Lord.
As such, Solomon the preacher’s words become more important for Christians who live in a culture that values things and often places great importance in acquiring things and hoarding possessions for security and happiness. But the preacher warns: “Naked you came into the world, and naked you will leave it” (Eccl 5:15). Like a splash of cold water in our faces, we are reminded of the secondary value of the things of this world, and not to place them too highly in our affections.
For a person whose wealth is their god, Jesus taught about the impossibility of entering God’s kingdom, as ridiculous as a camel going through an eye of a needle! (Mark 10:25). However, “all things are possible with God” (v. 27b). What God has made possible for sinful, condemned mankind, is that only Christ has made possible our salvation by His innocent suffering and death, and His triumph over death and the devil by His resurrection, the very fulfillment of God’s promise to destroy the devil and all his evil works by the offspring of a woman (Genesis 3:15). Only Christ.
Where our culture glories in wealth, possessions, power and prestige, we would be better served to put a stick in the eye of such possessiveness and to look only to Christ as our finest gift and possession. When we consider the things of this world, we might want to topple these gods and demote the things which tempt us or derail our affection from the Lord. We might more seriously consider the needs of others than our own wants and obsessions. If we find ourselves grasping and cloying for more, perhaps it is time to heed the words of the preacher and to forsake our love of money and demote these false gods. Give up that thing with which we are obsessed and give it away as a gift to someone less fortunate. Put away the things which charm us and turn instead to our Lord, whose life and love have called us from our darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). Cherish the baptismal grace, God’s gift of faith and new life in Christ our Lord, which is our eternal possession. Instead of hoarding things, we do well to devote our time and energies to advancing the Gospel, helping the neighbor in need.
As the preacher says, “when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil – this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart” (Eccl 5:19-20). Only Christ should be our all in all, to the glory of God.