It’s a Friday afternoon, the Sun is out and I’m feeling amazing after a productive week of work.
On impulse, I bus downtown, walk into a Foot Locker and decide to purchase a fresh pair of Nike Roshe Ones.
For some odd reason, a pressing question skims through my mind as I carry the shoe box to the cash register.
Do I really need this?
Likewise, a second thought passes through my mind.
The battle didn’t last too long, I bought the shoes and indulged in the sweet, beautiful new shoe fragrance.
However, the thought never left me after that moment.
Is it okay to be selfish, even a little bit….at all?
I’m not talking necessities like chicken, water, sleep, etc.
But like what if I just wanted to buy Beats by Dr. Dre, just cause?
Or travel the world not for any other purposes but simply because…I feel like it!
Personally, I’ve never really been opposed to any of these ideas (that’s why I bought those shoes).
However, the heart is deceitful above all other things, and we can easily become victims of sinful ways of life.
For this reason, let’s forget everything we know and see what the Bible says concerning this.
1. The Ultimate Goal in Anything
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God
1 Corinthians 10:31
If my blog page somehow dies within the next couple of years, I would be more than content if this was the only scripture you remembered. That’s probably why I use and abuse it in almost every post lol.
So before we get too deep into this topic, let’s set a LOUD reminder to ourselves that God wants to be glorified in EVERYTHING we do. I believe that’s why Apostle Paul sounds almost extreme in this passage..”whether we eat or drink”.
Therefore the question we should be thinking about when discussing this topic further is:
Will God be glorified through my enjoyment of materialistic things?
This… is a very deep question.
Thank God for scripture.
Now just to clarify again, this blog post is NOT discussing about those who are in NEED of material things (I.e., individuals who are in need of money to buy food in order to supply for their physical need).
This is explicitly dealing with things we don’t particular need.
In other words, luxuries of life. (Similar to my example in the beginning of this post)
Truth be told, I was supposed to post this blog in April, but there are so many gems in the passages we are about to explore that I needed to take time with it.
All in all to say, this will be a long post…#SorryNotSorry!
Cutting corners to hit an “optimal word count” would not do justice for the depths of these scriptures. (Ecclesiastes 5:18 –> 6:9)
These scriptures were written by King Solomon, inspired by God, to provide us instructions.
Just to gain an appreciation of Solomon, it’s important for us to note that He was a very wise & wealthy King, attributes which were both given to him by God (1 Kings 3:1-14).
2. The Ability to Rule Over Wealth is a Gift from God
18 Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. 19 Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God. 20 For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.
Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 ESV
In this passage, we see that God is able to provide wealth and possessions to certain individuals.
The first key to these passages is that King Solomon recognizes wealth as a gift from God, not something we have ownership of. Likewise, like any gift of God, we do well to be stewards of money, rather than allow it to rule over us.
This scripture lets us know that God also provides such individuals with the power to do 3 particular things with their wealth:
Power to enjoy them:
Pretty self-explanatory here.
Enjoy what God has given you.
Go ahead, get that popcorn chicken from Popeyes!
You deserve it! God’s blessed you with the ability to enjoy this!!
This is a gift from God, that He has given you the ability of what He has given you. It’ll be become more clearer as you read this post.
Furthermore, this also implies enjoying them [wealth and possessions] in giving it away, as scripture also states that “It is better to give than to receive” (Acts 20:32-35)
Power to Accept his lot:
The Amplified version uses the term “portion” rather than “lot”.
In essence, God enables us to be content with the “lot” or “portion” that He has given us. This demonstrates a level of gratefulness and appreciation towards God and what we have been given.
Power to rejoice in his toil
Lastly, He provides those whom He’s blessed with wealth and possession with the power to rejoice in their toil (labour, work).
Simply put, God expects us to rejoice in the work (He has given us) which supplies the wealth.
Or to put it plainly, God gives us the ability to enjoy our jobs. Click here to see my recent blog concerning this topic.
God expects individuals whom He has blessed in wealth and possessions to enjoy what they have, to accept what they have been given and to enjoy in their labour! The reason why He expects such a response is presented to us in verse 20:
“For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart”
A true follower of God will not value anything in his/her life to be more valuable than God Himself. Hence why they will “not much remember” or regard the days of their life, nor anything in it.
Their treasure/ delight is in God.
3. The Desire to Want More is Sinful
1 There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy on mankind: 2 a man to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honor, so that he lacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God does not give him power to enjoy them, but a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity; it is a grievous evil. 3 If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with life’s good things, and he also has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. 4 For it comes in vanity and goes in darkness, and in darkness its name is covered. 5 Moreover, it has not seen the sun or known anything, yet it finds rest rather than he. 6 Even though he should live a thousand years twice over, yet enjoy no good—do not all go to the one place?
7 All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied.8 For what advantage has the wise man over the fool? And what does the poor man have who knows how to conduct himself before the living?9 Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the appetite: this also is vanity and a striving after wind.
Ecclesiastes 6:1-9 ESV
King Solomon is essentially saying that those whom God has blessed with wealth & possession, yet have no contentment from these gifts practice a grievous evil.
Whether they are given a thousand years to live, they enjoy no good.
If they are blessed with many children and lack nothing, their souls are never satisfied.
So what’s the difference between the people describe in this passage against those in described in Ecclesiastes 5:18-20?
Those whom God has occupied with joy (in Him) are not dependent on materialistic things to sustain their joy. Henceforth, they are content with whatever materialistic blessing God gives to them.
However, if our heart’s delight is not rested from the joy of knowing God, we will forever be on a goose chase to delight in more things to fill that void. Just take a look at verse 7 in the scripture above:
“All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied.”
Having more than enough but not having the ability to be content with anything. This is what’s described as a “grievous evil”
A similar tone from Solomon is stated in prior verses:
He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity
Ecclesiastes 5:10 ESV
For more insight, also read the parable of the “Rich Fool” in Luke 12:13-34
Overall the lesson here is this.
Wealth and materialism should never rule over us. Rather we rule over it.
The only way this can be, is if we allow God to rule over us, so that whether or not He blesses us with an abundance of wealth, our joy remains unchanged, in Him.
In doing so, we are able to appreciate every good gift from God and be content in them.
So let’s end by revisiting the question at hand
Will God be glorified through my enjoyment of materialistic things?
The short answer is a resounding:
Yes! This is a gift from God according to Ecclesiastes 5:18-20
Assuming our contentment, peace, joy, identity is not rested on it but rather o God.
Before we abruptly declaring ourselves innocent from the love of money, and assume that we are genuinely content in Christ, let’s test ourselves with the following questions.
Are we content with where we currently are?
If all you had was a Bible, your prayer life and the wilderness…would you be at peace?
Lastly, I question I’ve mentioned before, if there was a heaven without God, would still want to be there?
Whether it be money, possessions, success in work or “church-like” stuff, all these can be idols, unless our souls are satisfied
Be occupied with the joy of knowing God & rule over every good gift He has given you.
Soli Deo Gloria