Focal Passages: Ecclesiastes 2:4-8; 5:10-16
The reality TV market is cluttered with a number of programs
which deal with people’s propensity toward the accumulation of “stuff.”
Shows like “How Clean is your House?” “Clean House” and
episodes of “Intervention” expose the seemingly uncontrollable addiction we
have with “things.”
A more recent offering to American taste for the excessive
is the program “Hoarders.”
Now in its second season, this one-hour show looks inside
the lives of individuals who are out of control and on the verge of personal
crisis because of the inability to part with their belongings. Some face losing
their children, others eviction, still others jail time or divorce.
For example, we meet Tara, an obsessive collector of things
like McDonald’s Happy Meal toys, snow globes and teddy bears. The clutter and
filth is so great that she is facing eviction and when officials responded to a
fire alarm in the home they found her husband sick from the mounting filth.
In another episode we meet Chris who filled the void of the
death of her newborn son with possessions. Her Attention Deficit Disorder keeps
her from focusing on cleaning her home and she now risks losing custody of her
daughters who still live in the clutter and junk.
As we read our text this week we meet another “hoarder” —
Solomon. Ecclesiastes 2:4-8 is an inventory of the “things” he has accumulated
and his personal involvement in acquiring these things.
“I undertook great projects…” he states proudly and then
gives a description of houses, vineyards, gardens, parks (the term he uses is
our term paradise), pools, groves, slaves, concubines (harem), and great
What more could one ask for or need? His response to this
hoarding is simple (like the subjects of reality TV — despair and disappointment).
He recognizes that there is hollowness to amassing great
wealth and possessions.
Rather than providing satisfaction and fulfillment, he
acquires sleepless nights, dissatisfaction and ill health.
“Whoever has money never has money enough” (5:10).
His final conclusion is that all his grand projects were
“herding (toiling for) the wind … eating in darkness with great frustration,
affliction and anger” (5:16).
Albert Einstein once wrote, “I am absolutely convinced that
no wealth in the world can help humanity forward, even in the hands of the most
“The example of great and pure individuals is the only thing
that can lead us to noble thoughts and deeds. Money only appeals to selfishness
and irresistibly invites abuse.
“Can anyone imagine Moses, Jesus or Gandhi armed with the
money-bags of Carnegie?”