Two of the most damaging words to our finances

I refrained from nothing that my eyes desired. I refused my heart no pleasure. Indeed, my heart found pleasure from the results of my hard work; that was the reward from all my hard work. 11 But when I surveyed all that my hands had done, and what I had worked so hard to achieve, I realized that it was pointless—a chasing after wind. Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 CEV

 

If only… Two of the most destructive words in the English language. They are filled with our regrets and unfulfilled wishes. Sometimes they reflect our disappointments in our own personal shortcomings. Sometimes they may reflect our disappointment with God and how we feel he has shortchanged us from what we thing we “deserve”.

  • If only I had a better job, then I’d be happy..
  • If only my <insert relationship here> was better…
  • If only I was better looking…
  • If only I didn’t have this health issue…
  • If only…

Perhaps nowhere do the “If only’s” have more potential for destruction in our lives than in the area of finances.

  • If only I had that fancy new car…
  • If only I had that shiny new gadget my buddy has…
  • If only I had a bigger house…
  • If only I got that promotion at work (and the money and prestige that goes with it.)
  • If only I’d get that big inheritance…
  • If only that lottery ticket would have the winning numbers…

We think that there’s that one thing that if we just had it then we would finally be satisfied with life. King Solomon was in a position that many of us would dream of. Wealth, power, wives, pleasures… You name it, he had all that he could ever want and more. And yet he found that in all of those things there was no happiness or satisfaction to be found.

The Contemporary English Version says he found these pursuits of pleasure a “chasing after the wind”, which I think is an interesting phrase.  Have you ever had a piece of paper blow away from you on a windy day? You chase after it and just as you are about to grasp it another gust of wind blows it farther away. It’s always right there but you can never quite get a hold of it.

That’s kind of how the if only’s work. Things, wealth, pleasures just don’t provide lasting happiness, because there is always another “If only” just on the horizon. If only I had my own house then I’d be happy. So I buy a new house. Then it’s if only I had newer furniture. If only I had that home theater system. Then a couple of years later that new house that made me so happy starts to feel a little cramped. If only I had a bigger house. Then I’d be happy. Of course the bigger house is in a nicer neighborhood, so now I need a fancier car to park in my drive way. Etc. Etc. Etc. It never stops just like chasing a feather in the wind.

Really the root spiritual issue here is contentment. This is the message of the book of Ecclesiastes. If you seek contentment through any of the physical things in this world it is an empty pursuit because contentment is not found there.  Don’t bankrupt your future trying to find happiness in things where contentment will never be found.

Godliness with contentment is great gain.

This is not to say that houses, cars and possessions are bad. On the contrary these can be blessings from God and I believe he delights in our enjoyment of them. Do not be deceived though by the “if only’s” that whisper there is just that one more thing you need to be happy. Do not bankrupt yourself chasing these things. There is nothing but emptiness there as one of the richest men ever came to find out.  He found meaning in one thing and one thing only.

Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind. Ecclesiastes 12:13

 

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8 thoughts on “Two of the most damaging words to our finances

  1. Thanks, Bob, well said. As it says in Psalm 118:24, “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” –Scott M.