by Brandy Webb
We have all heard the saying, “Money can’t buy happiness.” I have also heard the statement, “Well, I have heard that theory, but may I have a chance to try it out please?” The temptation to have more is all around us, especially here in the United States. I also think, in large part due to social media, the whole world now sees others that seem to have “more,” thus causing a rise in the temptation of desiring more stuff.
I know the dream of wealth is nothing new. I am sure most of us, when we were kids, had castle-in-the-sky ideas of what life was going to be like when we grew up, and I am sure the majority of us didn’t get to step foot in those “castles.” However, are you showing the next generation that you are still content and grateful with your life despite not becoming part of the “rich and famous”? Are we teaching the next generation by our actions and words that we know that money doesn’t buy happiness? We may not know because we have had the opportunity to prove the theory, but we do know of someone who did.
Solomon was the richest and wisest king of Israel. He made for himself great works. He built houses, vineyards, gardens, and parks (Eccl 2:4-5). He had many servants and “great possessions of herds and flock, above all who were before [him] in Jerusalem” (Eccl 2:7). Plus, he had lots of silver, gold, treasures, singers, musical instruments, all the food he could desire to eat, and all the wine he could desire to drink (Eccl 2:3, 8). He allowed himself to have anything he desired (Eccl 2:10). Yet, when he finally looked around himself he didn’t find happiness; he found vanity, chasing after the wind, and that all of it was of no profit (Eccl 2:11).
Why? Because it is just stuff, and he couldn’t take it with him when he died. In fact, he had no control over who would receive his acquired wealth and riches after he died. He didn’t know if the inheritor would be “a wise man or a fool” (Eccl 2:19). He also learned the hard truth, “He who loves silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase: this also is vanity” (Eccl 5:10).
What happens when we keep pursuing the wrong thing? We get caught up in whirlwind. Have you ever tried to catch wind? It is an impossible feat. Well, when we pursue things and not God, we are attempting to find happiness in the wrong thing, and we will never acquire that happiness just like we can never catch the wind. Now, I am not saying that we should not enjoy the fruits of our labor. For Solomon realized this:
“Behold, that which I have seen to be good and proper is for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy good in all his labor, in which he labors under the sun, all the days of his life which God has given him; for this is his portion. Every man also to whom God has given riches and wealth, and has given him power to eat of it, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God. For he shall not often reflect on the days of his life; because God occupies him with the joy of his heart” (Eccl 5:18-20).
The key thing is to rejoice, give God praise, and to realize that whether we have much or little, all of it is a gift from God. We must live a life that believes that it is better to have just “a handful, with quietness, than two handfuls with labor and chasing after wind” (Eccl 4:6). “Better is a little that the righteous has, than the abundance of many wicked” (Ps 37:16). “Better is little, with the fear of Yahweh, than great treasure with trouble” (Prov 15:16).
Therefore, money doesn’t buy happiness. The only way for us to be happy is to put our faith and trust in God; to be thankful for what He has given us; to live a life of contentment with godliness (1 Tim 6:6). And to heed Solomon’s parting words: “Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl 12:13).