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Friday, August 30, 2013

Life is Meaningless? Part 12

Ecclesiastes 5:8-16
8 If you see the poor oppressed in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still. 9The increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields. 10 Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. 11 As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them? 12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep. 13 I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner, 14 or wealth lost through some misfortune, so that when he has a son there is nothing left for him. 15 Naked a man comes from his mother's womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand. 16 This too is a grievous evil: As a man comes, so he departs, and what does he gain, since he toils for the wind?
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Work, profit, consumption, wealth, poverty, supply & demand, possessions, employment.

These are the issues of our day.  Almost every story in the news finds its origin in one or a mix of all of these themes.  Work and money, or the lack thereof, leads to need or greed which causes tragedy, economic disparity, crime and devastation.  

Consumers demand Production.  Production drives Pressure.  And employers and employees alike deal with pressures on both sides that make them wonder if "it's all worth it"...they ask, "what's the use" or "what is gained in the gaining"...the impoverished, "what is lost in the losing".  People are committing suicide on either side consumed with the strain of need or the demands of greed.  Need and Greed both kill their victims using slightly different weapons.  The "love" of money is the root of all evil, right?

He even touches on this fact.  "Whoever loves money never has enough."  The key word is "loves".  Money is not evil, nor the possession of it.  When you have money and you see yourself as a steward to invest it in things that are everlasting, those resources are a source of life for you and others. 

I've never had much money (in American standards at least) and wasn't born into wealth.  But I love the part of this verse that talks about the sleep of the laborer being sweet.  Sometimes with poverty comes simplicity, and with simplicity comes peace, and with peace comes rest.  The less you have, the less options you have, making life less complicated.  You work, earn a wage, that wage determines the width of your life, and you live within that margin.  It seems that the author uses sleep as a gauge for quality of life and it often has nothing to do with the things our world applauds as success.  Quantity doesn't equal Quality in the authors opinion and you get the sense that he would rather have less with hearty sleep than more with insomnia.  

More and more and more often creates complexities that not only drain the brain in the daytime hours, but crowd the mind with anxious midnight thoughts that revolve around how to keep the money machine from breaking down.  You fantasize about sleep and yet you can't bed down even in your most exhausted state because you've created a life around you that demands your constant plotting and planning to hold together.  I would rather have a shack with peace than a mansion with pressure.  That's just me.

I was naked at my grand entrance into this world and naked I will depart.  Someone said, "There is no Uhaul behind a Hearse".  Dust to dust, ashes to ashes.  So the moral of the story is to look at the polarities of extreme need and extreme greed closely, watching to see if either side is stealing away your ability to sleep sweetly.  The more you take your resources and possessions and leverage them for the good of humanity and eternity, it is then that you can take your wealth with you.  When you use your affluence to influence, your resources last forever because the only thing crossing over to the other side is the souls of people.

So the question is, "Am I using what God has given me to impact people for eternity?"  If the answer is no, prepare for insomnia and a nagging sense of futility.  We were created to invest our earnings into everlasting things...to defy that is like defying a law of nature like gravity, you will lose that battle.  But if the answer is yes, you are not only simplifying your life each day by downsizing and divesting, you are actually turning fiscal affluence into spiritual influence, exchanging physical currency into eternal currency.  

It's the only way to avoid the feelings this author bemoans.  Are you starting to feel sorry for this sucker yet? 

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