So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun.
For a person maylabor with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then they must leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune.
What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun?
All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds donot rest. This too is meaningless.
Solomon, who could afford to buy anything or do anything that he wanted, the wealthiest, possibly the most powerful king who ever lived, discovers that none of the things that money, or power, or influence can buyhave given his life meaning. He weeps that a person could spend their entire lives pursuing wealth, but in theend will leave it all to someone who didn’t work a single day or ooze a single drop of sweat in order to get it.If this is where the book of Ecclesiastes ended, it would be horribly depressing. But in the end, Solomon begins to understand that there is something in the world that is greater than his own pleasure. In the last fewverses of Ecclesiastes, Solomon says,
“Here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep hiscommandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment including every hidden thing whether it is good or evil.”
, Jesus gives a message that is incredibly similar to Solomon’s.
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?”
Then he said to them, “Watchout! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest.
He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will storemy surplus grain.
And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy;eat, drink and be merry.”’
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
A man asks Jesus if he will help him to get a portion of an inheritance that he thinks his brother should sharewith him but Jesus isn’t very helpful. Instead, Jesus warns the man and his brother to guard themselves fromgreed. They had lost a close relative, someone close enough to share the fortune that they had worked for during their lives, probably a parent, and their concern is how much money they are going to get out of it.Jesus warns that this is greed. It is the same as the rich man who saw an abundant harvest only as a way tohave more for himself. Jesus says that, just as Solomon feared, all that the rich man has worked for will begiven to someone else.Paul sees the same things and he sees how much pain it causes to focus on the wrong things. In his letter to thechurch in Colossae,
Paul lists eleven things that come naturally to us, things that belong toour earthly nature, cause us to lose sight of the truth and focus on ourselves (me) instead of God or others.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at theright hand of God.
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
For you died, and your life is now