Volume XXXVIII, #46: When You've Gotten It, Can You Enjoy It?
“There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men: A man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor, so that he lacks nothing for himself of all he desires; yet God does not give him power to eat of it.” (Ecclesiastes 6:1,2)
IN SETTING OUR GOALS AND MAKING OUR PLANS, WE OFTEN ATTRIBUTE TO OURSELVES MORE POWER THAN WE ACTUALLY HAVE. When we aspire to material wealth, for example, we’ve been taught by the motivational speakers to believe that we can have anything we want: it is only a matter of having enough drive and ingenuity. But there are two faulty assumptions hidden in this thinking. One is that we can acquire however much wealth we want to acquire, and the other is that we will be able to enjoy it once we get it.
But it is God who determines, first, whether we’ll be allowed to accumulate wealth and, second, whether we’ll be able to enjoy it. Any of us might be the “man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor” and yet “God does not give him power to eat of it.” The truth is, God can keep us from accumulating wealth if He wants to (despite our drive and ingenuity), and He can just as easily keep us from getting any lasting joy out of it. So write this down and never forget it: if we wrongfully aspire to wealth, one of God’s worst punishments is to let us have the thing we thought we wanted and then make us more miserable than we were before we got it.
So when our “dream comes true,” will it make us happy? Maybe it will, but then again, maybe it won’t. Foolishly, we assume that getting the wealth we desire will provide the freedom to enjoy life and open the door to happiness. But that won’t be the result if God doesn’t grant the enjoyment of the things He permits us to acquire. God may see to it that our wealth gives us not freedom but slavery, and there is no worse bondage than bondage to wealth. As the saying goes, “Chains of gold are stronger than chains of iron.”
At the end of the day, freedom has little to do with what we have or don’t have. In fact, it doesn’t have much to do with our external circumstances at all. Even in prison, Paul had more freedom than most of those walking the streets outside his prison. Freedom is freedom from the sinful desires that have bound us to the devil.
“Freedom does not mean I am able to do whatever I want to do. That’s the worst kind of bondage. Freedom means I have been set free to become all that God wants me to be, to achieve all that God wants me to achieve, to enjoy all that God wants me to enjoy.” (Warren W. Wiersbe)