True or false: the one who dies with the most toys wins. Or how about the one who has the most money wins? What about the one who is the most brilliant and has the most advanced degrees, or the one who has reached the highest level in his or her organization, the one who has traveled the most, has the most beautiful wife or debonair husband, the best athlete, the most talented artist or musician, has won the most awards, become the most famous or the most powerful? In the end who wins?
You probably know me well enough by now that you’ve already figured out the answer is none of the above, either because it’s a trick question or it is simply obvious. If so you’re correct, none of the above. But who does win in the end? Before we answer that let’s explore a little further.
A man who wrestled mightily with this question was none other than King Solomon, the wisest and richest man who ever lived, and though he had everything and tried almost everything both good and bad, toward the end of his life he came to the conclusion that nothing – I mean nothing – on this earth can fully satisfy a human’s desire for complete fulfillment. “Meaningless! . . . Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless . . . a chasing after the wind,” he declared in his essay we know as the Book of Ecclesiastes.
Alcoholics, it has been described, are not people who drink too much; rather people who can never drink enough. Their thirst for alcohol – their addiction – can never be satisfied. So it is with every earthly desire, as Solomon declares, no matter how much or how little we have it is never enough. Our thirst – our desire for fulfillment – is never satisfied no matter how much we gain, attain, or accomplish.
So in the end who wins? It is not the one with the most stuff, the best things or the most accomplishments. Rather, it is the one with the most gratitude. The one who wins is the one who is thankful for whatever he or she has – and especially thankful to God for providing it. “Fear God and keep his commandments,” Solomon concluded at the end of his essay, “for this is the whole duty of man.” Grateful people are the only ones who ever achieve complete fulfillment; they are the ones who always win in the end.