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How can riches be meaningless?

In Ecclesiastes 5:8-6:12 King Solomon looked back over his life and concluded that his great riches and wealth were meaningless. He said “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income”, and he said “Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs.” Our worldly wealth does not satisfy us when we are alive, and our life’s collection of wealth is left behind for others to use when we die.

The writer of Psalm 49 agreed with this when he advised us “Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendour of his house increases; for he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendour will not descend with him.” (Psalm 49:16-17)

Both of these writers were speaking about the riches of this world, and Jesus took up this theme in the Sermon on the Mount when He said “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

Jesus was saying that there are riches of genuine value to us, but they are not found on earth. Instead, we need to concentrate on storing up riches in heaven, and we do this by “seeking first His (God’s) kingdom and His righteousness,” (Matthew 6:33). At the end of his letter Solomon’s conclusion about life was that we should “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). If we want riches that are meaningful, we need to turn away from the meaningless riches of this world, and look to our creator.

All scripture quotations are from NIV84.