Keeping a Right Perspective of Wealth. Pt. 1
Read Ecclesiastes 5:10-20
“He who loves money will not be satisfied with money…Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor.”
One of the hardest things to keep in proper perspective is money. In a culture that celebrates wealth, it is easy to lose perspective. We condemn the wealthy (whom we define as anyone who has more money than us) for their avarice while secretly coveting what they possess. We either see wealth as evil or as the object of our pursuits. In the book of Ecclesiastes, the sage desires to provide a balanced look at life by carefully examining the reality of life in a fallen world. Leaving no stone unturned, the Preacher examines life to discover meaning and purpose. In the end, he concludes that a world marred by sin is a world that is ultimately governed by vanity. The word “vanity” repeatedly used throughout the book is a word that can be translated as a “vapor or mist” and thus refers to that which has no substance, meaning, or value. As he looks at all the pursuits of life; wealth, pleasure, success, power, and knowledge, he concludes that sin has so marred our world that these pursuits all become meaningless in the end. But this pessimistic outlook is not meant to point us to despair. Instead, it gives us perspective. While not condemning these pursuits, he points out that they do not provide ultimate meaning and significance to our life. The only thing that brings genuine substance and meaning is: “Fear God and keep his commandments, because this applies to every purpose” (12:13).
It is this perspective that he desires to gives us regarding wealth and riches. He does not condemn wealth, nor does he commend riches. In verses 19-20, he points out that riches are gifts from God and are to be enjoyed. He neither condemns wealth nor does he idolize it. He merely calls us to have a different perspective. Wealth, as the basis for our enjoyment of life, is an illusion. Prosperity, when it becomes our obsession, becomes a source of hurt. It can be quickly lost so that in the end, after all our toil to attain it, it has as much value as the pursuit of the wind (vs. 16). Furthermore, it has given us no real advantage at the end of our life, for we entered this world with nothing, and we likewise go to the grave with nothing (vs. 16-17).
Instead of making wealth our goal in life, we are to learn instead to enjoy the life God has given us regardless of our economic standpoint. Wealth does not bring happiness, neither does poverty short-circuit our enjoyment of life. The joy of life comes when we learn to enjoy the life God has given us regardless of our economic status. Happiness does not come from our circumstances or even our finances; it comes from life itself lived in the context of our relationship with God.
If you are not enjoying life today, you will not find it by pursuing wealth or changing your circumstances. Instead, change your relationship with God, for when you make him the object of your pursuit, you discover true joy in life.