“Better what the eye sees
than the roving of the appetite.”
~Ecclesiastes 6:9a (NIV).
Comparisons produce envy and vice versa. Materialism is a great one for producing the girding desire to have what the Jones’s have.
The featured verse above is really contrasting two actions.
Simply said, we’re far better off to simply take ‘possession’ of what we see than we are in chasing the image of owning what we see. The first action is the correct one; it’s the only one that’s always ours through this marvellous gift of sight—if we’re truly fortunate to see.
Is it possible, do you think, to enjoy the shiny red Ferrari purring beautifully down the road? Our eyesight has gifted us with a stunningly resplendent thing to see. It is a possession. We own it. Its beauty for that moment is ours. It’s ours as much as anyone else’s on the planet.
Take this a step further, however—once we’ve started to drool—and our ‘roving appetite’ is the beginning of the destruction of us. Our envy has this instant outstripped our fleeting ownership.
The great thing in this truth—if we can hold it—is we can have the whole world whilst never owning anything.
We don’t need to chase the materialistic dream—the cars, the home, the clothes, the toys and trinkets, good looks—when we ‘possess’ simply what our eyes see. And an even better truth... the best things in life are free! Nothing, for instance, compares with nature. God’s green earth captivates us more than any human-made thing.
Working Hard for the Money
We spend our lives working endless overtime or working our fingers to the bone for not only our family’s food and shelter, but for the material desires of the heart. Many people could work less hours in a less stressful job if they’d be satisfied with less materially.
The frustrating thing is, we’ll never be truly happy chasing our riches. We can only commence the journey to joy in rejecting the world, i.e. our chasing after it, to go after the spiritual life.
Vanity, too, is meaningless. We will all end up older and whilst we can prolong the demise it is far better to appreciate the growing venture into the wisdom of agedness than deny the inevitable. Why would we not also ‘take possession’ of our maturing looks that testify to God’s grace through the end years of our lives? We will always be beautiful to God.
To enjoy what the eye sees is a solid possession; to chase past this, however, is to never possess anything, for the desires are never sated. The latter, as Qoheleth (the teacher of Ecclesiastes) would say, is a chasing after the wind.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.