Some of us remember Jack Benny. In a skit on his radio show, a robber held him up, pointed a gun at him and said, “Your money or your life.” After a long pause, Benny said, “I’m thinking! I’m thinking!”
“Is there a reason for living?” Solomon asks throughout Ecclesiastes. Many people find their purpose in material possessions, who live by the motto: “Greed is good.” Greed is more than wanting what someone else has--it’s wanting them to not have it. The Christian worldview does not mistake wealth for worth, nor does it endorse greed as a virtue. The Bible isn’t opposed to wealth, only to the unhealthy pursuit of happiness through any means apart from God. You can’t hug a mutual fund. If our primary goal in life is material wealth, we will end up with empty, futile lives and spiritual bankruptcy. So much for the idea that “I will be happy when I become rich.” Wiser minds speak of the “curse of riches.” Solomon in calls it “a grievous evil under the sun.” Materialism isn’t owning things, but being owned by things.
In the late 1800’s, an American tourist visiting Poland was welcomed at the home of a learned Rabbi, Hofetz Chaim. He was surprised to find the Rabbi’s home was a simple room filled with books, plus a table and bench. He asked, “Rabbi, where is your furniture?” “Where is yours?” replied the Rabbi. “Mine?” asked the puzzled American. “but I’m a visitor here; I’m only passing through.” “So am I”, said the Rabbi. Let’s not get too tied to this world, and we’re not home yet.