I don’t know about you, but it seems to me like the more options there are to choose from, the harder it is to decide on one. Take entertainment. With satellite television and streaming services, many of us have more television shows and movies at our fingertips than we could ever watch in multiple lifetimes. With the constant creation of new shows, many exclusively for streaming services, the list of things to watch gets larger and larger and larger. So, what should I watch? Something new, something old, something I’ve seen a hundred times before?
The same goes for restaurants. In deciding where to eat, it’s much easier to choose between two or three options than to choose between seven or eight. Is it worth the risk to try someplace new and be disappointed? Why not go to the old favorite, instead.
In Ecclesiastes, an often-misunderstood book, Solomon writes that life is “vanity,” or “meaningless,” a “breath of wind.” He also writes of the limitations of wisdom and of working and striving. Indeed, much of what Solomon criticized can be summed up as this: why strive for more and more if you don’t enjoy what you have?
In our materialistic American culture, it seems the magic word is always “more.” We want more choices, more television, more money, more things, and we’re often looking for the next best upgrade.
You and I get a new phone, and the next thing you know, we want a smart watch. You and I get a raise, and the next thing you know, we want even more. You and I have Netflix, and the next thing you know, we want more shows.
“Need” and “want” are soon intertwined in our vocabulary. Solomon certainly has a point. Surrounded by more choices than I could ever choose from, I can’t help but think that at some level, it’s all vanity. I’m always going to be searching for the next new thing. You and I aren’t often satisfied with what we have, but tire of it easily and hope for something else.
Solomon was given wisdom, but even then, there was too much in creation for him to understand. He found that his wisdom paled next to the wisdom of God. He was given power, yet found that his power paled next to the power of God. He was given plenty, but realized that it would never be enough and that he would always strive for more.
And so, Solomon issued a command from God: enjoy the things God gives. Take pleasure in the food you have and in the work of the day. Don’t live life constantly desiring more and more and more. At the end of the day, you and I will all go empty into the grave. Do you really think you and I will be standing in the New Jerusalem around Christ, beholding Him as we behold each other, wishing that Netflix would have added more entertaining shows, or that we should have gone for that new phone upgrade?
Indeed, without Christ, without grace, if we were just to base our lives on our strivings and our possessions, all certainly is vanity. So, thank God for the mercies of Christ who has died for us, been raised for us, and promises to come again for us!