In our study of Ecclesiastes chapter two, we look at man's attempts to find purpose in this world. We will learn from a man that had everything this world could offer but was still unsatisfied.
"I thought in my heart, 'Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.' But that also proved to be meaningless. 'Laughter,' I said, 'is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?' I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly - 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." NIV translation
Solomon tells us that he tried the party lifestyle to see if that would give him purpose but he found that it did not. Many people in our world today are doing the same thing as they "live to party" but the party only covers the pain and emptiness. Solomon tells us that he couldn't just turn off his mind and his mind knew that there had to be more to life than hedonism.
"I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well - the delights of the heart of man. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me." NIV translation
Next, the king turned to materialism and acquiring more than anyone else had ever had from fancy houses to piles of gold. Even with all that he had, he could not escape the fact that he knew that possessions were not the answer. The simple fact of the matter is that, if you pursue riches on the earth, you will never have enough as you compare yourself to someone that has more.
There can only be one person on the earth that has more than everyone else and so this pursuit of wealth through possessions will leave everyone else feeling like a failure.
"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. 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; nothing was gained under the sun." NIV translation
What's it worth? That is the question that Solomon answered with his exploration of materialism. He had everything that any man could ever want and found that it didn't matter. He felt entitled to it because of his work but, in the end, realized that he wasn't going to take it with him when he died. That is what Jesus was talking about when He called us to store up treasures in heaven (see Matthew 6:20).