I have been studying some other passages that talk about the trap of working for riches in this world rather than focusing on treasures in Heaven. (Matthew 6:19-20 “Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, ...) Then, I ran across this verse from Ecclesiastes: "All labor and skillful work is due to a man's jealousy of his friend."
Not only are so many of us chasing the wrong goal. We are chasing it for the wrong reasons! Ecclesiastes 4:4 I saw that all labor and all skillful work is duet to a man's jealousy of his friend. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind. [HCSB] Scripture is clear that we shouldn't focus on accumulating wealth. We are to work to take care of our families (2 Thess. 3:10). But we aren't to be overly concerned about having enough money. And we aren't to make money our main focus.
But this verse from Ecclesiastes got me thinking about 1 Timothy 6:10, which says that the "love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." Why do we tend to love money? Ecclesiastes says we're jealous of what our friends and neighbors have. Do we really want that new car, that bigger boat, a nicer house? Will it somehow make a meaningful difference in our lives? Or do we just really want these things to enhance our social standing, to make others think we are successful and to make us seem important to our peers? These are lousy reasons for spending our time and energy — to satisfy envy. Just because our neighbor has a new car doesn't mean we have to have one. It all comes back to perspective. What is important to us? Do we care about spiritual things? Or are material things the most important to us? The world tells us we have to have the best and latest stuff. God tells us those things are temporary and worthless, that we should focus on building treasures in Heaven. How much more clear that is when we consider the ugly motives that make us want more wealth.
What's the source of our security? Is it our finances and the reputation we have in our social circle? Or is it our dependence on God and his provision for us? If we're trying to have all the stuff everyone else does, it's probably the former. Matthew 6 goes on to say: "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." We don't want our hearts to be in matching the possessions of our neighbors. We want our hearts to be with the Lord. That doesn't just happen. We have to focus on it, put effort into it. We have to intentionally put our efforts into building treasures in Heaven rather than here on Earth, or we will slip back into our lower motives.