Stooping down to pick up nothing

Stooping down to pick up nothing Written by Aaron Jennings

Stooping down to pick up nothing

Have you ever wondered how incredible and enjoyable your life would be if you won the lottery? I recently saw an advertisement that depicted this couple who just won a large sum of money. They said since winning the money, nothing much has changed. They still say hi to everyone they walk past and they still read the newspaper; it’s just that -- now they’re waking up in balmy hammocks on the beach in the Bahamas. It was actually a really well-made advertisement and it got me wishing that I was rich so that I could go to the Bahamas and read newspapers.

As a university student with limited funds it’s fun to imagine what life would be like when you’re wealthy enough to do outlandish and extravagant things. And even though I hear people say: Money is the root of all evil, or money can’t buy you happiness, if I’m being honest I wouldn’t let those thoughts stop me from accepting millions of dollars if it was offered to me.

I read an article about Lottery winners which discussed their happiness after they won a large sum of money and one psychologist made an interesting point. She said:

“Eventually, the thrill of winning the lottery will itself wear off. If all things are judged by the extent to which they depart from a baseline of past experience, gradually even the most positive events will cease to have impact....”

Ok, so simply put, rich people become accustomed to being rich and living in the Bahamas, but that’s not exactly a bad thing, right? What’s so bad about lottery living? I thought to myself, what does the bible have to say on this topic of extravagant living? And, as I looked into it, I found that there was one man who dedicated his life to this very question. This is a man who truly threw himself into the “belly of the beast” so that we didn’t have to. This man was King Solomon. In the second chapter of one of his books we see a profound answer to why indulgent living or “self-gratification” as we may call it, isn’t good for us.

Ecclesiastes 2:1: I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. 

Right there! There it was - the answer to my question. Living indulgently is vanity. Excessively spending on indulgence would cause you not only to get used to it but, at its core, the action of spending excessively on yourself -- the essence of the action -- Solomon states, that it is conceited, egotistical and prideful.

But, obviously, we seldom fit in a position where this even applies to us. We don’t have millions to spend on champagne wishes and caviar dreams. But, if we extract the action or idea of self-gratification, we see that it definitely applies to more than just the millionaires.

Solomon states in Ecclesiastes chapter 2 and Verse 10.

“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. All was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. “

So, what does that mean for you and me? I think that working hard at building an empire is certainly a worthwhile venture, but yet, here, the wisest man on earth is saying that all was vanity and striving after wind. Equivalent to stooping down to pick up nothing, as a wise man once said. This really shook me because I thought about how much time I am personally wasting when I spend time waiting in line to attend a concert that ultimately doesn’t bring me closer to God, or anticipating the newest video game, or saving up for the latest gadget?

I’ve been thinking and reflecting on all the ways I’ve been grasping at the wind in my life and, to be honest, it can get me down when I realise just how much time I’m spending on frivolous, meaningless, grasping-for-the-wind activities.

So the big question is: Did Solomon find anything worthwhile doing in the realm of self-gratification like he attempted to find in his life-long experiment? Yes, he did, and he gives us the answer in Ecclesiastes 12:13.

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all.”

So, let us try to follow the lessons that Solomon spent his entire life figuring out, so that we can have a satisfying and Godly life. And now that we know the answer, we can rest easy and excited knowing that striving to show love for God and keeping his commandments is of far greater worth and satisfaction than winning the lottery.


Related Articles

Christianity: A Way of Life

Lesson 11
Christianity: A Way of Life

Is it acceptable to believe we are free to worship God as we wish, to refashion God in our own image? Or has God revealed an approach to life that He expects us to follow? Does it make any difference in the relationship we are supposed to have with Him? In this lesson we examine the answers to these questions and more from the Scriptures.

Managing Your Finances

Managing Your Finances

What advice does the Bible offer about wealth and our attitude toward it? Is money really the root of all evil? Do you know what God thinks about bankruptcy? What does the Bible say about charitable contributions? How much should we give? Be sure to read this booklet to discover biblical answers to these important questions and more.

About the Author

Aaron Jennings

Beyond Today Magazine

  • Can You Change the World?

    Can You Change the World?

    Can You Change the World?

    Much of life today seems beyond our control, with the world heading into worsening times. Each day brings news of some big event that impacts us—if not directly, at least weighing us down with serious concerns about the future. War continues in the Middle East and Ukraine. The Hamas atrocities against Israelis were shocking and horrifying. Israeli retaliation brought more scenes of suffering and death. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has ripped apart lives and threatens other European states. But what can we really do? Initial shock and prayers for peace give way to trying to get on with normal lives.

    Debt and inflation

    I read a lot about inflation eating away our savings and pushing many people to the edge of insolvency. Food and energy prices take increasing chunks of our monthly wages. The Bible talks about putting money into “a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:6)—a hole in your pocket in today’s language—as a sign of a sick and weak economy, as it is now.

Free Bible Guides

  • Making Life Work

    You probably already own the best self-help book ever published with practical guidance to help you achieve success in your career, friendships, finances, family and every other aspect of life.

  • Living Faith

    There is a crisis of faith. Many people simply have no confidence that there will be a better tomorrow. You can have living faith!

  • The Fruit of the Spirit

    The Fruit of the Spirit

    Jesus Christ taught important spiritual lessons regarding the "fruit" of our lives. What are they, and how well are we applying them?

  • Guys, Girls and God

    Guys, Girls and God

    Build wonderful relationships with the opposite sex while you keep God in mind.

  • Marriage & Family

    Marriages are in crisis! Divorce is rampant. How do you build a truly loving and life-long relationship?