We are currently in a verse-by-verse study of the book of Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes is often overlooked and misunderstood. Some read it and conclude it is depressing and dark, but it is a necessary book for our spiritual maturity because it vividly captures the beauty and the frustration of life on earth. In Ecclesiastes, God speaks to us about the futility of man’s longing for relevance and meaning in a sinful world and the necessity of finding it in Him. So far, Solomon has shown the vanity of wisdom, pleasure, toil, relationships, and even religion. These things are not necessarily evil but apart from God they are fleeting and frustrating.
Since wisdom, pleasure, toil, relationships, and religion cannot satisfy, what can? Solomon next turns his attention to money. Surely, money can bring happiness because if someone has plenty of money, they don’t have to worry about anything. Right? Actually, that is not true at all. In this sermon, we shall see that money is a good servant but a terrible master.
When You Love Money
When you love money, you grow dissatisfied. Solomon wrote in verses 10-11, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity. When good things increase, those who consume them increase. So what is the advantage to their owners but to look on?” (10-11). It is common for people to assume that if they had more money they would have less problems. This is not true. In fact, in 2018, a study was conducted that showed that the wealthier one becomes the less happy one becomes. It showed “more income [approximately $105,000 in the United States] tended to be associated with reduced life satisfaction and a lower level of well-being.” There is a term to describe this: Affluenza. Affluenza refers to “a psychological malaise supposedly affecting wealthy young people, symptoms of which include a lack of motivation, feelings of guilt, and a sense of isolation.”
When you love money, you are led to ruin. When you love money, it becomes an idol and God despises idols. Stuart Scott said that such things as money, wealth, etc. are “manifestations of one of the three categories given to us in 1 John 2:15-17 “…the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life…” When you love money you accumulate problems. “To throw money at it” is an attempt to resolve a problem by spending money on it without much thought (as opposed to solving or changing the fundamental problem). Money cannot solve your problems because your fundamental problem is not money. It is a heart issue. “There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: riches being hoarded by their owner to his hurt” (13). When money is your master, you change for the worse. Solomon put it this way: “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” (12). Puff Daddy put it this way: “Mo money; mo problems!”
To summarize, Solomon wrote about the person who loves money: “there is an evil which I have seen under the sun and it is prevalent among men–a man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor so that his soul lacks nothing of all that he desires, but God has not empowered him to eat from them, for a foreigner enjoys them. This is vanity and a sore affliction” (6:1-2). God has not empowered him to enjoy his wealth because his wealth is his idol that leads him away from God. Solomon sees this as a sore affliction, but it is a means of grace by which God is drawing the man away from his idol and back to Himself.
When You Love Jesus
Money makes a good servant but a terrible master. It is a terrible master because it was never intended to serve in that way. God is the only true God and when He is not acknowledged as Lord, life is imbalanced and ruined. The way you keep money from becoming your master is confess that Jesus is Lord (Rom 10:9). When Jesus is your Lord (Master), He will help make sure that everything else is in its proper place: including money. Jesus makes this very clear in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” When Jesus is Lord we have contentment.
When Jesus is your Lord, money becomes your servant. Paul wrote to Timothy:
But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs (1 Tim 6:6-10).
Remember the man in Ecclesiastes 6:2 who cannot enjoy his money? He cannot enjoy his money because God has not empowered him to do so. Look at Ecclesiastes 5:18-19. We read that a man who has been empowered by God to enjoy it. It is because he knows it is a gift from God. God will empower you to enjoy His blessings when you love Him more than His blessings. The theme of Ecclesiastes is that life should not be expected to be self-fulfilling (Ecc 1:2) because life only has meaning when it is lived in a right relationship with God.
Money is a good servant but a terrible master. It is important for us to make sure Jesus is our master and money is our servant. Calvin Miller offers this warning: “But we are wealthy, and our purses are so heavy that we cannot carry both our goods and His cross. So we cling to our wallets and leave the cross bearing to those who have less to surrender.” Are you willing to surrender all for Jesus? Is there anything you are holding back from Him? Take time this week to ask Him in prayer to reveal anything that is holding you back from trusting Him completely. Use your money to bring glory to God.