Solomon, the author of the book of Ecclesiastes of the Bible, took a direct and realistic look at human life. Much of what he spoke about concerned money and business. And it stands to reason: he was the wealthiest man that ever lived. Modern scholars estimate that at the height of his career, Solomon was worth more than all the billionaires in the world today, who have a combined net worth of about 8 trillion dollars.
Yeah, Solomon was immeasurably wealthy.
Riches to Rags
His son Rehoboam, who took over his kingdom after he died, was an idiot and proved it by his mishandling of the massive wealth passed to him. In only a few years, he had successfully obliterated most of the kingdom’s fortune. He was a classic example of the riches to rags story.
It is likely Solomon suspected this to occur after he passed on, considering the type of person Rehoboam was. Or perhaps Solomon had seen it happen in other kingdoms, and felt it was something he should warn others about. Either way, he lamented this condition in Ecclesiastes when he said this:
“There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: riches being hoarded by their owner to his hurt. When those riches were lost through a bad investment and he had fathered a son, then there was nothing to support him. As he had come naked from his mother’s womb, so will he return as he came. He will take nothing from the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand.” Ecclesiastes 5:13-15
In this short riches to rags tale, Solomon is pondering the transiency of wealth and money. Money comes, and money goes. People can do great business. Investments can be timed just right, markets can grow, and riches gained. But it also can go the other way. Investments can go bad, markets can die out, and a person can quickly lose everything they have.
Given this reality, we would be wise to seek the proper way to mitigate potential loss. We know we cannot control outcomes, but we can influence those outcomes, and surely we can affect the fallout when things do go bad. So much of it lies in how we view our wealth.
How to properly view wealth? Here are a few things to remember:
Wealth is a Mindset
How one thinks about wealth is vitally important. If you look at your wealth in the wrong way, it matters nothing how much you actually have. I have known people who are extravagantly rich, but think and talk as though they “feel” poor all the time. In other words, these people never have enough, always need some more, and every day is another day they might lose what they do have. In effect, they are impoverished in their minds. So how do they offset this? They hoard.
Conversely, others I know have little, but think and act as though they have everything they would ever need. Their mindset is the mindset of the truly wealthy. People who have this attitude understand true wealth is a product of your view of it.
They know the secret so few know: it’s not what you have that counts, it’s your attitude toward what you have.
Wealth is Temporary
Oh, what would change in the lives of so many if they considered this truth! Most of humanity lives as though their possessions are here for today, tomorrow and forever. But nothing is forever, at least not here on earth. We know this, right? The only guarantees we have are death and taxes. Point of fact, taxes take your money from you, and death takes everything else. So why is everyone exhausting themselves for what is so temporary?
Here’s another secret: you will take nothing with you when you die. Live for the things that endure, because wealth does not. As you were born into this world with nothing, so you will leave this world with nothing.
Wealth Serves a Purpose
As it has been said many times and in many ways, wealth is a means, not an end. If it was an end, we might conclude it makes sense to amass as much as possible in the short duration we are here on the earth. But it is not an end in of itself. Wealth is a means because wealth serves a purpose. Wealth feeds people. It builds things. It empowers others, providing them life. Wealth does all these things and more… for others. That’s its purpose. But wealth piled up in one’s bank account or garage is utterly wasted.
The secret is simple: use wealth to bless and uplift and empower others, and it will have served its rightful purpose.
In summary, remember there is a right way, and a wrong way, to view one’s wealth. If viewed wrongly, wealth becomes a snare, a trap. It can cause pain and anxiety. But, viewed properly, wealth is a great blessing! If we remember genuine wealth is only temporary but can serve a good purpose while it does last, and ultimately is a result of how we think, we will enjoy the making of, and using of, our wealth.