“Riches Are Meaningless
8 If you see the poor oppressed in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still. 9 The increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields.
10 Whoever loves money never has money enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.
This too is meaningless.
11 As goods increase,
so do those who consume them.
And what benefit are they to the owner
except to feast his eyes on them?
12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
whether he eats little or much,
but the abundance of a rich man
permits him no sleep.
13 I have seen a grievous evil under the sun:
wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner,
14 or wealth lost through some misfortune,
so that when he has a son
there is nothing left for him.
15 Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb,
and as he comes, so he departs.
He takes nothing from his labor
that he can carry in his hand.
16 This too is a grievous evil:
As a man comes, so he departs,
and what does he gain,
since he toils for the wind?
17 All his days he eats in darkness,
with great frustration, affliction and anger.
18 Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him—for this is his lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God. 20 He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.”
I’ve been told that just because I’m an American, I’m rich. I don’t have to live in a one-hundred square foot aluminum home in a crowded shanty town. I don’t have to share my water source with hundreds of thousands of others. I don’t have to live in a camp because there is extreme violence in my town. To be poor in America is a different thing from being poor anywhere else. Most cities offer programs that give poor, homeless people a place to sleep at night, a place to get a meal every day, or even a place to get back on their feet. You just have to be poor enough to qualify. So imagine that you’re almost poor. Do you redouble your efforts to stay above that line? Do you let your efforts slide in order to get all of those hand-outs? Which do you think most people would do?