With our nation struggling to cope with an inflation rate unseen for decades, money is on the minds of many of us. The problem of too much week remaining at the end of one’s pay is common. As prices soar for gas and food, along with cars, housing and many other commodities, who can blame us for fretting over the effect they’re having on the family budget?
However, even in the best of times, people spend countless hours worrying over money – including the very rich. One might think that individuals possessing wealth that most of us can’t even imagine would be immune to such concerns.
That’s not the case. Years ago, when asked how much money is enough, one super-rich business magnate famously responded, “Just a little bit more.” I suspect that remains the perspective of billionaires today whose names regularly appear in the news.
To understand what this must be like, we have no better authority than King Solomon of ancient Israel. Thousands of years ago he was known not only as the wisest man of his time – perhaps of any time – but also the richest. Solomon wrote about the futility of every pursuit his vast wealth afforded to him:
“I thought in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.’… I undertook great projects…. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well – the delights of the heart of man…. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure…” (Ecclesiastes 2:1-10).
Can you imagine that? Having such a massive supply of wealth that he could indulge in anything and everything that crossed his mind? What’s even more amazing was his conclusion from all of his pursuits: “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:11).
For folks like us who have known what it’s like to live from paycheck to paycheck, that sounds almost inconceivable. We think, “No me! If I could just get that pay raise I’ve been wanting, or better yet, if I won the mega-lottery, I’d never complain about money ever again!”
But as the great sage Lee Corso has often said, “Not so fast, my friend.” Here’s what the wise and rich Solomon had to say about the perpetual pursuit of money: “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. As goods increase, so do those who consume them…the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep” (Ecclesiastes 5:10-12).
I’ve often wondered why the super-rich (at least most of them) seem relentless in their quest for more. We hear of affluent businesspeople, politicians, pro athletes and athletes who seem dissatisfied no matter how many zeroes they have after the first number of their net worth. However, when material possessions serve as the only perceived source for personal happiness and fulfillment, I suppose “enough” is never enough. As Solomon observed in Proverbs 27:20, “Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are the eyes of man.”
Some of us might be thinking, “Well, I’d still like to give being rich a shot.” The Bible doesn’t condemn wealth per se, but as Jesus Christ pointed out, money has a way of commanding our attention and energy. “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Luke 16:13).
That still might not set our minds totally at ease in the face of runaway inflation, but Solomon offered this balanced outlook: “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown You and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:8-9).
Hopefully, the time will come – sooner than later – when the rate of inflation will return to a manageable level, putting less strain on our checkbooks. But even then, as King Solomon perceived, it’s best to maintain a right perspective:
“Then I realized that is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun the few days of life God has given him – for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work – this is a gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 5:18-19).
God never promised to satisfy all our wants, but as Philippians 4:19 attests, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” That’s an assurance on which we as His children can cling.
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Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.