4:4 And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor. This [seeking happiness in the pursuit of wealth] too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
As Solomon observed the avenues people pursue in their search for fulfillment in life, he turned his attention to the market place. Solomon, who stressed the importance of hard work in the book of Proverbs, was interested in what people do with their hands. However, Solomon was interested in more than the work of the hands; he also was interested in the heart. He observed that jealousy was one motivation for perfecting one’s skills in order to remain competitive in the marketplace and to have a bigger bottom line.
The drive to keep up with the Joneses is as old as the book of Ecclesiastes. Many people work hard only because they want to have more, bigger, and better things than their neighbors. Proverbs 27:20 warns that “people’s eyes are never satisfied.” We must guard against allowing the desire for the material trappings of success to drive us to unreasonable and even self-destructive efforts to get ahead.