“There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men:”
One of the hardest things you will do is to clean up the possessions of a person after they die. I have had to go through the possessions of loved ones and friends after they are gone, and it is not an easy thing to figure out what to do with their things. When you are going through the possessions of a person who has passed away, you are going through their life. Everything you touch are the possessions they acquired in life, and you are literally throwing away a part of their life when you throw their “things” away. It is not that it is wrong, it is simply a truth that Solomon emphasized in the verse above.
As Solomon looked at the vanity of life without God, he saw something that he thought was an evil. He said in verse 2, “A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honour, so that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eateth it…” In other words, Solomon thought it was an evil not to be able to enjoy the wealth one obtains while they are alive. He was saying that whatever a man acquires while he is alive will not be able to be taken with them when they die. Looking through the eyes of a person who is living their life for themselves, Solomon concluded that this was an evil.
Solomon was right when he said that man is not going to take anything with him when he dies. He was not saying that it was wrong to acquire these things, but that the acquisition of these things will only be temporal. My friend, the earthly things you acquire on this earth will only be enjoyed while you are alive. Everything you acquire will one day be left to others. In this verse, God is teaching several principles to the believer that will help them to live a more meaningful life.
First, there is nothing wrong with acquiring worldly possessions. God is not saying it is wrong to have money or possessions; rather, He simply wants the believer to understand that the possessions they acquire will not be taken with them when they die.
Second, the only possessions you will take with you after you die are the eternal rewards you acquired while you were alive. Let me remind you that you are acquiring two things while you are alive; you are acquiring earthly possessions and eternal rewards. Earthly possessions will be left behind when you die, but eternal rewards will be enjoyed when you get to Heaven. Laboring for earthly possessions will leave you empty and dissatisfied; whereas, laboring for eternal rewards always leaves you fulfilled in life, and these rewards will be able to be enjoyed in eternity. My friend, you know your life is being wasted when you’ve acquired more earthly possessions than eternal rewards.
Third, laboring for eternal rewards requires a vision of faith. The difference between the two rewards is that one is the evidence of living a life by sight while the other is evidence of a person living a life of faith. When you live life by sight, you will live to acquire earthly possessions, but when you live a life of faith, you will live to acquire eternal rewards.
Let me ask you, have you acquired more earthly possessions than eternal rewards? You will enjoy life more fully if you live for the eternal. No, you won’t have the possessions of this earth, but you will have the joy that comes from living by faith and knowing that you have rewards awaiting you in Heaven.