For some reason, I’m hearing Johnny Cash singing:
How many times have you heard someone say
“If I had his money, I could do things my way.”
But little they know that it’s so hard to find
One rich man in ten with a satisfied mind
I think you’ll agree that it’s pretty easy to get to this song from the next piece of Ecclesiastes:
The one who loves silver is never satisfied with silver, and whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with income. This too is futile. When good things increase, the ones who consume them multiply; what, then, is the profit to the owner, except to gaze at them with his eyes? The sleep of the worker is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of the rich permits him no sleep.Ecclesiastes 5:10-12
Two of my grandsons are getting ready to go to Kids’ Camp this week. In their shameless capitalism, they have a plan. They’ve gathered up and pooled their money and are set to hit Costco before they leave, buying a box of individual serving chips. We were doing the math a few minutes ago. The box contains 40 bags of chips. Each bag will cost about 30 cents, while they plan to sell them for a dollar. That’s 70 cents profit, or a total of $28 if they sell the whole box. Not bad when you’re 11 years old.
In talking this operation over with the boys, I tried to explain to them why they weren’t simply being shameless opportunists in making a profit through these sales. After all, they got the chips there, invested their money up front, and are taking the risk.
“What if somebody steals your chips?” I asked Uri. He twitched at that idea. Clearly he hadn’t thought of it, but, having gone to this camp twice before, he knew that security was pretty hard to come by. Now he’ll probably lie awake worrying about his “business” walking away from him as some bold 3rd-grader stuffs Doritos in his mouth.
I don’t think that Solomon is trying to tell us that doing whatever was the equivalent of selling chips at Kids’ Camp in 1,000 B.C. is always a foolish thing. Instead, I believe that he’s pointing out the peril attached to it and the short-sightedness of depending on it.
Getting in Tune
If you’re an O4C (Over 40 Christian), then you’ve probably long ago learned the truth to today’s verses. We want that shiny new car, but then we have a shiny new car to worry about. We want to buy our own house and stop wasting money on a rental, but then we take on all the risks, responsibilities, and worries that come with home ownership. We might want a more responsible job or our own business, but then we get to fulfill those responsibilities and fret about the hundred bad things that could happen to our business.
We could add many other sources of worries. Parents, children, and grandchildren provide a steady stream of concerns. Bo the Poodle is going to the vet school to get his virility checked this week. We just learned this morning that some unidentified predator killed one of our baby bunnies. It’s a mean old world, you know.
All of those things of this world–businesses, poodles, and bunnies–are blessings, but they are blessings that come with their own built-in worries. It’s foolish for us to chase after those things without awareness of the downside.
But we can pursue the blessing that has no downside.