Jump Start # 3461
Ecclesiastes 2:18-19 “Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun. This too is vanity.”
Poor Solomon came to a conclusion that many senior citizens have seen in their lives. We spend a lifetime pursuing hobbies, collecting things that are precious and meaningful to us, only to realize that our children and grandchildren have little to no interest in those things. News article after article has shown that Millennials, Generations X and Z have no desire to hold on to grandma’s silverware. Boomers have a house full of stuff, often passed down from their parents that no one wants.
For Solomon, he developed gardens, parks, planted trees, made ponds, collected silver and gold and now he realizes the next generation may not have the same desire for these things as he did. In today’s world, the gardens would become apartments. The trees would be cut down and the space turned into a strip mall. The gold and silver sold at a pawnshop. A lifetime of collecting is disposed of just days after the funeral.
There are some realities that we must admit:
First, what is important to me, may only be important to me and to no one else. I have file cabinets stuffed with articles about Indiana restoration history, the early churches and the early preachers in this state. Someone suggests, you ought write a book about these things. There are already books written and who would read them, expect a few history buffs like myself. I’ve known people who spent a lifetime collecting stamps, coins, old hammers, quilts, license plates, spoons and what-nots that sit proudly on their shelves. What will happen to those things? Most likely, sold, trashed or given away. The collection will not stay collected. What is important to me, may only be important to me.
Second, if you have found enjoyment in collecting things then that was the value for you. Someone else sees clutter. Someone else thinks, ‘where will I store all these things?’ Don’t be upset if others don’t see the value or the joy that those things brought to you. Your kids don’t have the investment of finding, buying and collecting what you have. To them, it’s just stuff, or more bluntly, just junk. You have gotten joy out of putting that collection together.
Third, the most important thing that you can pass on to your family is the value of righteousness and godliness. Teaching your family to make wise decisions and to remain committed to the Lord is much more important than grandma’s cast iron skillet. The memories of love, joy and family is something that they will treasure the most.
Fourth, if you find a way to pass on your collection of treasures to someone else that will save your family a lot of heartache and trouble after you are gone. What to do with this stuff is a major question that comes up after the funeral. Who wants this stuff? No one has the heart to say, “Not me.” So, one person feels the guilt to take things home just because they meant a lot to mom.
There shouldn’t be that guilt. Solomon’s words are true. Someone comes after you. Those things now become their possession. What they do with it is their business. Once you release things and take your fingers off of them, they are no longer yours. The other person might keep those things, sell those things, give those things away or even trash them. It’s theirs. It is no longer yours.
We must remember the words of Jesus, “Life does not consist of possessions.” Don’t define yourself by what you have. Rather, it is who you are that makes the difference. Walk through any thrift store or antique mall, and you’ll see things that were common in your childhood. Now they sit on a shelf with a price tag on them. Most of those things will be sitting on those shelves for a long, long time.
Don’t allow clutter to clutter your thinking or your heart. It’s only stuff and you can’t take it with you. Enjoy it while you have and realize after you are gone, it’s no longer yours.