RICHES & WEALTH

Ecclesiastes 5:8-20

This section of Ecclesiastes contains words of wisdom. We began in Ecclesiastes 5:1 with words of wisdom in relating to the Lord. Now the Preacher moves to how we relate to the King and with money.

5:1

5:8

5:10 5:20

Words of Wisdom in dealing with...

The Lord

The King

Finances

What you SAY

What you THINK

What you LOVE

What is wisdom? Wisdom is more than knowledge. It is possible for a person to have a lot of knowledge but little wisdom. Youíve known people like that - people with a string of degrees behind their name but lacking in old fashioned common sense. Wisdom involves a practical application of knowledge. It involves a skill in living.

 

THE POLITICS OF INJUSTICE

If you see oppression of the poor and denial of justice and righteousness in the province, do not be shocked at the sight; for one official watches over another official, and there are higher officials over them. 9 After all, a king who cultivates the field is an advantage to the land. (Ecclesiastes 5:8-9).

Corruption in government is nothing new. That should not surprise us - Solomon has already told us that there is nothing new under the sun. As long as there have been governments, there has been corruption.

This brings us to a question. Why does government exist? I want to suggest several reasons.

The point is that government exists for our GOOD. The Preacher points this out in verse 9 when he tells us that a king who cultivates the field is an advantage to the land.

 

LAWS OF FINANCIAL SATISFACTION

Many people feel that being rich would solve all of their problems. Or like one man said, "I know that money doesnít buy happiness, but at least I could be miserable in style."

1. Law #1: Money does not bring Satisfaction.

He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

Having money brings no satisfaction. All you have to do is to look at the lives of the rich and the famous. They are the most miserable people on earth. Their marriages seem to fall apart. They always wonder if their friends are only after their money. They find in themselves a great emptiness.

Money does not satisfy. To live a life with money as its goal is to lead an empty life which can only end in unsatisfied restlessness. Augustine said, "Our hearts are restless until they rest in God." It is only God who can satisfy.

2. Law #2: Money does not Last.

When good things increase, those who consume them increase. So what is the advantage to their owners except to look on? (Ecclesiastes 5:11).

I have observed a natural law at work - it is that my wife seems to have an innate, God-given ability always to spend at least 10% more than I make. It doesnít matter if I have quadrupled my income over the years, our spending seems always to match.

What happens when you have more money? You spend more money. You find yourself with more expenses.

3. Law #3: Money does not bring Peace of Mind.

The sleep of the working man is pleasant, whether he eats little or much; but the full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep. (Ecclesiastes 5:12).

Whatever you own owns you. The more you have, the more you have to worry about.

The story is told of a man who was traveling by train across India. He had placed his case filled with valuable jewels on the seat beside him. Throughout the long night, he struggled to stay awake lest someone come while he was asleep and steal his jewels. He would find himself nodding off and his head would lower and jerk and then he would force his eyes open. This continued until morning. At long last, his eyes became heavy and he dozed off. He awoke with a start to find that the case had indeed been stolen. "At last," he said with a yawn, "I can finally get some sleep."

The Preacher contrasts two men.

The Working Man

The Rich Man

It does not matter whether he has eaten well or eaten poorly

He is able to eat well but has a leanness of soul

His sleep is pleasant

He is not able to sleep

 

Sleeping is one of lifeís little pleasures. It is more of a pleasure to one who has spent a day of hard work.

Is the Preacher saying that there is anything wrong with money? I donít believe so. It is the LOVE of money and the PURSUIT of wealth that leads to tragic consequences (1 Timothy 6:10). When an attempt is made to find satisfaction for the soul, then money is elevated to a god-like status and the pursuit of money becomes another form of idolatry. You cannot serve God and money (Matthew 6:24).

THE WAY OF WEALTH

The Preacher now takes us to two tragic stories. They are stories of "grievous evil."

1. The First Grievous Evil: A Man who Loses it All.

There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: riches being hoarded by their owner to his hurt.

When those riches were lost through a bad investment and he had fathered a son, then there was nothing to support him.

As he had come naked from his mother's womb, so will he return as he came. He will take nothing from the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand. (Ecclesiastes 5:13-15).

The first case is one in which a man collects a fortune but then loses it through a bad investment. Perhaps the stock market collapses. Or perhaps he builds a business and the business fails. As a result, the man who spent his life amassing a fortune cannot even support his own son. He spent his life in gathering money and in the end, he has nothing to show for it. He dies as naked and as penniless as when he was born.

2. The Second Grievous Evil.

This also is a grievous evil -- exactly as a man is born, thus will he die. So what is the advantage to him who toils for the wind? 17 Throughout his life he also eats in darkness with great vexation, sickness and anger. (Ecclesiastes 5:16-17).

The second evil which the Preacher describes resembles the first. But there is a difference. There is no mention made of what kind of success this man had before losing it all.

This is the point. It doesnít matter if you are a success or a failure in business. Everyone ends the same way.

Ecclesiastes 5:12-15

Ecclesiastes 5:16-17

A GRIEVOUS EVIL

ALSO A GRIEVOUS EVIL

Man hoards his riches but they are lost in bad business dealings

It is the case with all men that as a man is born, so also he dies

Man dies without anything

Man dies without anything

Here is the point. The tragedy is the same for EVERYONE. You can never take your money with you when you die. You always go the way you came - penniless.

 

LIFE LESSONS FOR FINANCIAL SUCCESS

1. Enjoy It While You Can.

Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one's labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward. (Ecclesiastes 5:18).

If your eyes are only on tomorrowís financial promises, then you will never learn how to enjoy today.

How would you live differently if you learned that you only had six months left to live? What would you do? With whom would you spend time? To whom would you say, "Iím sorry"? Do it!!!! You only have a few years. That is the message of the Preacher. Enjoy the now! Live deliberately!

2. What You Have is Given by God - Be Thankful.

Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God. (Ecclesiastes 5:19).

If God has gifted you with riches (and if you live in the United States then you DO have a certain level of riches compared with the rest of the world), you have an obligation to thank Him for those riches and to enjoy His gift with an attitude of thanksgiving.

But even if you are penniless, God has gifted you with the wealth of LIFE. Whether it be eyes to see or ears to hear or a mind to contemplate or any combination of these, give thanks to the Lord, for these are gifts from Him.

3. Donít Waste Your Time Worrying about the Brevity of this Life.

For he will not often consider the years of his life, because God keeps him occupied with the gladness of his heart. (Ecclesiastes 5:20).

There is a temptation when reading the teachings of this book concerning the brevity of life that we stop and spend our life bemoaning its brevity. That is the wrong response. A proper response in to accept this precious gift of life and to do that to which God has called us.

What has God called you to do? To be a fire fighter? Then enjoy being a fire fighter for the glory of God. To be a housewife? Be a housewife with gladness in your heart as you make your home the house of God. To be a businessman? Recognize that all business is Godís business and that He has gifted you with a place in which to do His work. Enjoy your business and be thankful to the Lord for that business.


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