All that my eyes desired, I did not deny them. I did not refuse myself any pleasure, for I took pleasure in all my struggles. This was my reward for all my struggles. When I considered all that I had accomplished and what I had labored to achieve, I found everything to be futile and a pursuit of the wind. There was nothing to be gained under the sun. - Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 HCSB

There once were two wealthy men who each wanted to hoard their riches. The first man buried his gold beneath a tree, but he had no sooner left when a thief, who had been spying on him, came and stole it. This man did not realize that his gold was gone and went on dancing and partying, thinking that he was one of the elite when in fact he was poverty stricken.

The second man also buried his treasure, but soon forgot where he hid it. Though he was very wealthy, he spent the remainder of his days in abject poverty and misery.

To have, or to possess, is considered by most to be the primary objective of mankind. Some seek to possess wealth, while other desire fame. Some want constant pleasure while others are only interested in power. All these are illusions. This is the nature of this world.

The things we collect will soon be given to another and who knows whether they actually deserve it? Fame is fleeting as any aging actor will attest. Power is equally ephemeral and excessive pleasure can actually be destructive.

To be is of far more use than to have. To be means to steadily work at our character, our soul, our spirit. The body will age and pass away leaving only the soul and spirit to continue plodding on into eternity.

The only thing we can take with us into the next life is what we have added to our character. Those who have added only greed, pride and narcissistic self-will will take those with them to Sheol just as surely as those who have added humility, compassion and a servant’s spirit will take those to Heaven.

Small wonder then that the Master taught, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Blessed are those who mourn, because they will be comforted. Blessed are the gentle, because they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, because they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, because they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, because they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, because they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.”[1]

Day by day, moment by moment, we are given the choice again and again: to have or to be? Human society offers fast cars, well-paying jobs and beautiful playmates. Hashem offers a quiet harvest of righteousness.[2] Let us decide.

[1] Matthew 5:3-10 HCSB

[2] Hebrews 12:11