Thoughts on life and Scripture...

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Devaluing the Value of Wealth

"He who loves money will not be satisfied with money; nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is a vanity." Ecclesiastes 5:10

 In the mornings I have been studying the book of Ecclesiastes. The book describes the quest of Solomon to find purpose, satisfaction and meaning in life under the sun. He writes this book looking back on his quest for satisfaction. Throughout the book Solomon moves in his writing from his past quest to his current understanding. I found this understanding of Ecclesiastes very helpful as it clear up some confusion I had as I read this book.. I owe this view to the ESV study notes on Ecclesiastes.
   Solomon had seen vanity in all of life. Pleasure, work, laughter and power are all vain when pursued as an end in themselves. In Chapter 5:10-20, Solomon looks at wealth and money. The Bible talks a lot about money and wealth as it is an important subject. Wealth can do great damage to our souls. Wealth can also be used for great good. In a very wealthy culture, we especially need to have a Biblical understand of wealth. It is human nature to love money and wealth. It is a natural idol that we worship. For many people their goal in life is to be filthy rich. But here in this passage, Solomon warns us that wealth and money are not as valuable as we think. Riches are overrated. The idol of money is here exposed as being a sham and a cheat. Let us look at why Solomon found wealth to be unsatisfactory.

1) Loving money and wealth will not satisfy us. verse 10
Greed is a bottomless pit. The desire for money never ends. We never find real contentment in wealth. That satisfaction seems just around the next corner, but when you arrive there, it escapes to the next corner. Rich and poor alike are not satisfied with what they have. It doesn't matter if you have a thousand dollars or a hundred million dollars, you will not be content. A life lived to gain and be satisfied in money is a life that is empty and vain.

2) Gaining wealth adds more dependents. verse 11

The meaning of this verse could be the more wealth a person acquires, the more people will flock to him pretending to be friends to get a share of that wealth or that the wealthier we become the more we need to have people to take care of our wealth. For example the larger one's farm gets, the more employees we need for the running of the farm. Wealthy people have a lot of leeches that suck their wealth.

3) Wealth can bring loss of sleep. verse 12

A rich man can have a difficult time sleeping. One reason is that he may worry about his wealth. How will he manage it? What if all his riches are lost or stolen? Maybe he lies awake thinking about his business deals. Another reason is that a wealthy person doesn't have to work that hard. On the other hand, someone who works hard all day, will have no trouble falling asleep. It doesn't matter if he eats a lot or a little, sleep comes easy to a working man. Wealthy people tend to work more with their minds or at least do very little physical labor. As such it may be hard for them to fall asleep.

4) Wealth brings pain or hurt. verse 13

Wealth takes much pain and sacrifice to acquire and it requires pain and sacrifice to keep as well. Wealth needs to be maintained and it will cost us to hold on to our treasures. Wealth can hurt us spiritually by making us proud, gluttonous or self sufficient. Like the rich young ruler in Luke 18:18-25, money can be the cause of our eternal ruin. Wealth can hurt us by making those around us envious. Wealth can bring with many temptations.

5) Wealth can disappear in a one hundred and one different ways. verse 14

Wealth is not certain. There are many ways it can vanish. Thieves can steal what we have. We can make one bad business decision that can bankrupt us. The economy can collapse. The banks could fail. The stock market may crash. A natural disaster could destroy all we have. War could come and ruin us financially. We could become sick and spend all our money trying to get healthy. And the list could continue. Money is an untrustworthy idol.

6) Wealth can not be taken with you when you die. verses 15-16

You can work your whole life to build a massive fortune, but when you die, it all stays here on earth. You really can't take it with you when you go. All your hard work and careful planning to get riches will be in vain. All of it will go to someone else who most likely didn't do anything to help you acquire your fortune and may squander all of it. Naked you were born and naked you will die. Why heap up treasure that won't last.

I will conclude with the words of Paul. Please read them closely.
      "As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life."
1 Timothy 6:17-19


No comments:

Post a Comment