Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 (NIV)

1 I thought in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure1 to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. 2 “Laughter,”2 I said, “is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?” 3 I tried cheering myself with wine,3 and embracing folly4–my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives. 4 I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself5 and planted vineyards.6 5 I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves7 who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. 8 I amassed silver and gold8 for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces.9 I acquired men and women singers,10 and a harema as well–the delights of the heart of man. 9 I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem11 before me.12 In all this my wisdom stayed with me. 10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. 11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;13 nothing was gained under the sun.14

Matthew 6:1-21 (NIV)

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,1 where moth and rust destroy,2 and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,3 where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.4 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.5

DEVOTION – Daniel Sebbah (Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Zur, France)

My mother has dementia, and she is no longer able to live alone.  Last year she went to live in a nursing home, and now I’m emptying her house to sell it.  For 50 years she accumulated many treasured possessions – furniture, dishes, clothes, shoes,letters, books, and photos to name a few-seemingly never throwing anything away.  Today, most of these things have little or no monetary value.  In a few days her possessions will be sold, given away, or thrown out.

While doing this difficult task, I’ve never so clearly understood the words in Ecclesiastes:  “Everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (2:11).  It occurred to me that our accumulated possessions are of no value to us once our earthly lives are over.

Now it is time for me to refocus my priorities and my efforts, not on the material things of this world but on the kingdom of God – on justice, and on my relationship with Jesus and with others.  That is the real treasure Matthew 6 speaks about.  This treasure will never lose its value and will never be thrown away.  This treasure will be with us in eternity.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: The best things in life come from God.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, help us to discern the important things in life – our relationship with you and with others.  Amen.