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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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I Must Leave It!!

"Whoever dies with the most toys wins" was a mantra that floated around in our money-crazed culture a few years ago. It sounded pretty good until somebody messed things up by reminding us, "Whoever dies with the most toys is still dead." Having the most toys does not necessarily mean you are a winner. Just ask King Solomon. He had more toys than anyone (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11). But there was a problem. The itch he tried to scratch wouldn't stay scratched by ANY of the many toys he sought and bought!  Solomon was gorged, but not satisfied. He was honest enough to admit that in spite of the fact that he had feasted his flesh, his soul was left yearning for more. Solomon said it long centuries before Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stone sang it — "And I tried, and I tried, and I tried, but I can't get no satisfaction." A partial summary of his disappointment and frustration is found in 2:11: "Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun." As if life were an orange, Solomon squeezed and sucked every last drop of fun, pleasure, material and sensual stimulation out of life. But somewhere far down that interstate of self-indulgence, he discovered that, instead of being on his way to purpose and satisfaction and fulfillment, he was actually on a dead-end street to frustration, futility, meaningless and despair. The phrase "under the sun" (mentioned 29 times in Ecclesiastes) reveals Solomon lived as if this life is all there is. Rich and powerful as he was, that approach left him burned out and dejected.

Ecclesiastes 2:12-23 records Solomon moaning out loud about another inescapable reality. In this passage he lays out a truth that exposes the greatest weakness about the toys we work so feverishly in this life to accumulate and stockpile. It is summarized in verse 18. Will you hear the man who accumulated more toys that anyone in his day? "I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me." There. Did you catch it as you read the words? "I MUST LEAVE M" Those four words rip the heart right out of the "whoever dies with the most toys wins" philosophy and expose it for the lie it really is! We can't take our toys with us when we leave this world. You and I know this is true. But do we really? A. Starke Drischell observed, "Every cemetery has its percentage of misers who figured if they couldn't take it with them, they weren't going." Solomon knew better. "I MUST LEAVE IT" — this was the inescapable truth that gripped and haunted him, and, apparently (at least hopefully) later in life, began to guide his decisions (see 12:13-14). If you're like me, it's hard to conceive of any similarities you would share with the ultra-rich people of our world. But there is at least one thing you have in common with people like Ted Turner, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey, the Queen of England, the super-rich oil sheiks of Saudi Arabia, etc., etc., etc. Here it is. No matter how much or how little each of us has, "I MUST LEAVE IT" when I die. Are you ready for that?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ