It's never enough.
The holidays make it all too clear for us. The ads come out and we inevitably line up to buy something else that we can't live without. Apple routinely reminds us that the phone we bought is already out of date and we need to get the new one because it's bigger and faster.
As Americans, this is a part of the reality that we've become accustomed to. We are used to having multiple cars, always-changing technology, and a pile of credit card debt. This has become the American way. I mean what other country has a $17 billion industry for the sake of storing stuff that doesn't fit in our houses. In the United States, we spend more money on trash bags than 90 other countries spend on everything.
But despite the abundance of our stuff, we're not all that happy.
In fact the Word Happiness Report suggested that the United States is only the 15th happiest country. Why is our stuff not making us happier? Why doesn't wealth equate to happiness?
Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes understood this dilemma. Solomon in his great riches, decides that he is going to test his pleasure and wealth and turn away from nothing that his eyes desire. Solomon would throw the biggest parties, by the biggest mansions, eat the best filet, and get to hang out back stage with the best bands.
"And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun." - Ecclesaistes 2:10-11
@@You can have everything and still have nothing.@@ You can create, you can buy, you can build anything and still be missing what matters the most.
John Mayer understood this in his song, Somethings Missing, when he sang:
"I'm dizzy from the shopping malls
I searched for joy, but I bought it all
It doesn't help the hunger pains
and a thirst I'd have to drown first to ever satiate
And I don't know how to fix it."
This is the same sentiment echoed by Chuck Palahniuk in Fight Club:
“You buy furniture. You tell yourself, this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life. Buy the sofa, then for a couple years you're satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you've got your sofa issue handled. Then the right set of dishes. Then the perfect bed. The drapes. The rug. Then you're trapped in your lovely nest, and the things you used to own, now they own you.”
The reason that we can have more and more stuff without finding happiness is because more and more of us find ourselves owned by our stuff. We find ourselves searching for something, on a pursuit of an identity, and the more and more we search for it in what we own, the more what we own becomes our master.
The story of Ecclesiastes is not ultimately a story about the problem of stuff. Stuff isn't our problem, sin is our problem. Sin sends us on a pursuit for identity in whatever the next dollar might buy us. The problem isn't that we own stuff, the problem is that our identity is wrapped up in our stuff. The problem is that our stuff owns us. Our Our house tells our neighbors who we are. Our clothes tell our friends what kind of people we are. Our kids behavior tells the world what kind of parents we are. And because of all of this, we find ourselves burdened by the endless pursuit of more. And Solomon reminds us that it's all "meaningless." It's a "chasing after the wind."
@@Because if you're looking for joy and sastisfaction in what you own, you're not going to get it.@@
Instead look to Christ. Paul in 1 Corinthians 2 writes, "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." When we have Christ cruficied, we have everything we need. The sin that sends you chasing after an identity with a credit card gets put to death on the cross. And instead you are purchased; you are bought with a price. And your identity is secured in the payment of the blood of Jesus.
We are freed from the shackles of our own pursuit of more stuff and we are chained to Jesus. He becomes our master and we become his servants as we are satisfied by his own body and blood. We are given a new life that clings to the hope that even when all the stuff of life might get taken away, in Christ, we always have enough.