Bible Study for Mar. 31: The problem with wealth

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Eccl. 5:10-20
Gregg Potts, lay minister
Emerson

Money brings happiness, right? 

Nope! It doesn’t. We have been told that, and some like to believe that, but money does not bring happiness.

Now, before we go any farther, there is nothing wrong with money or wealth if we manage it properly. Some like to say “money is the root of all evil.” But that’s not true. That verse doesn’t read “Money is the root of all evil;” it reads, “the love of money is the root of all evil” (I Tim. 6:10).  But it’s wrong to think that money alone will bring happiness. 

In our lesson this week, Solomon is dealing with the issue of wealth.  Remember, he had set out to find meaning in life. He had sought meaning in pleasure and in learning but all he had found was emptiness. So now, Solomon searches for meaning in wealth. 

Our text says, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity.” Then Solomon added, “When good things increase, those who consume them increase. So what is the advantage to their owners except to look on?”

Solomon is dealing with the mistaken idea that wealth will bring happiness. We live in a highly materialistic society and lots of people believe that things — or a trip — will bring happiness. At times, I’ve talked with people who are planning to take a trip. They tell you where they are planning to go, and then they may say something like, “I need to get away.” There are times when we all need some fresh air or a change of scenery. But, taking a trip is not going to solve all of anyone’s problems.  When the trip is over, you return home and the problems are still there. 

Solomon says in our text, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money..”  Think about it. That’s the polar opposite of what we hear today. We are told that money will bring happiness. But Solomon says it won’t satisfy. Solomon adds, “When good things increase, those who consume them increase.”

In Haggai 1, the prophet dealt with this. He said to the people, “Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm..” The people of Israel seemed to have all they want but they weren’t happy. 

Money can hurt people

In Eccl. 5:13-17, Solomon says, “… riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.” Solomon is saying that money is a trap. A love of money may lead us into a get-rich-quick scheme. A love of money may lead us to not pay workers what they should make. A love of money may lead us to do things wrong in business in an attempt to make more money. 

Every now and then, we may see a news story about someone who has embezzled some money. These are people who have access to money and evidently took money that wasn’t theirs to pay for things they wanted. Some people are sentenced to prison time for this type of thing. This is an example of how money can hurt people. 

In Eccl. 5:14 Solomon says, “When those riches were lost through a bad investment and he had fathered a son… there was nothing to support him.”  If we do not manage money is well, there is nothing to leave with our families.

How to handle money

Solomon has explored wealth and now he tells us what he has learned. He writes, “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. 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. For he will not often consider the years of his life, because God keeps him occupied with the gladness of his heart.”

Solomon tells us it is right to enjoy one’s wealth. He says, “… 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.” 

So, if God has blessed you with wealth that has been earned correctly, it is right to enjoy what we have earned. At the same time, we should understand that wealth does not bring lasting happiness. We should be content with what God has given us. Paul wrote in Phillipians 4:11, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned in whatsoever state I am, to be content.” 

Don’t let a love of money consume you. Henry Feilding once said, “Make money your god and it will plague you like the devil.”

Are you content with what God has given you? 

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