What’s the Point?
Message 3 • Economics
January 9, 2022
- This morning we are continuing our series entitled, What’s the Point?
- This series is based on the question that Solomon asks at the beginning of his book and his book provides the answer.
- Today we will be asking, what is the point of money? Now if you are one of those folks that thinks that the church only talks about money…well I’m sorry you missed the first two weeks of this series where we discussed death and the meaningless pursuits of life here on earth.
- There are so many songs about money, from taking it and running, to describing its many problems, to Madonna’s classic about being a Material Girl.
- “Money” by Pink Floyd
- “Get a good job with good pay and you’re okay”
- We have all been taught many things about money, but what is the point of all of it? And while money does allow us to purchase, experience, and pursue things, it is not only good.
- In fact, pursuing it can create in us loves and desires that far outstretch what we were meant to manage.
- So, let’s see what Solomon has to teach us about money.
Money cannot provide…
1. Holiness. (Ecclesiastes 5:1-6. C/R: Hebrews 12:14)
- Ecclesiastes 5:1-6 (NLT) - 1As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut. It is evil to make mindless offerings to God. 2Don’t make rash promises, and don’t be hasty in bringing matters before God. After all, God is in heaven, and you are here on earth. So let your words be few. 3Too much activity gives you restless dreams; too many words make you a fool. 4When you make a promise to God, don’t delay in following through, for God takes no pleasure in fools. Keep all the promises you make to Him. 5It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it. 6Don’t let your mouth make you sin. And don’t defend yourself by telling the Temple messenger that the promise you made was a mistake. That would make God angry, and He might wipe out everything you have achieved.
- This passage seems placed oddly at first. As we will see later, Solomon is speaking of injustice, relationships, and politics, then this section occurs, and Solomon begins to delve into the drawbacks of being wealthy. So how do all of these things relate?
- Often money is seen as a solution to the world’s problems. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, was recently criticized on Social Media because with his wealth he could fix world hunger by just selling enough Tesla shares.
- He responded back by saying he would do it, if someone could provide a peer review study on how money could fix world hunger.
- Solomon is bringing up some difficulties in life and helping people see that money cannot buy certain things.
- One of those things is a right relationship with God.
- Solomon describes an attitude that we should have when we come to the house of the Lord, not hasty and few words. These express and understanding of God as Creator and us as creature. He is giver and we are receiver.
- ILL: Children asking for something.
- Solomon goes on to say that vows made to God matter. Solomon is making a connection with our words and our money. Neither of those things make us right with God.
- ILL: Ministry Plan Commitment and New Year commitments… i.e., giving, reading plans, journals, etc.
- What does make us right with God? Christ. You cannot earn, persuade, manipulate, deceive or seduce God. But God sent His Son to earth for you.
- If you think you can be made right with a Holy God in any other way than the way in which He determines you are wrong.
- Hebrews 12:14b (NLT) - … work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.
- APP: How is your spending or lack of spending of money justified by God? Do you think how much wealth or how much you give alters your standing before God?
Money cannot provide…
2.Happiness. (Ecclesiastes 5:10-11. C/R: 1 Timothy 6:9-10)
- Ecclesiastes 5:10-11 (NLT) - 10 Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! 11 The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers!
- Solomon then reaches into another area of our lives that we believe money can provide for us, happiness.
- Solomon shares that as soon as you begin to have wealth, people will try to take it from you.
- Whether it is new friends, old family members, neighbors, or the government, the more money you make the more issues it creates.
- Mo’ Money, Mo Problems is a spiritual truth.
- Often it is not the money itself that we think will bring us happiness, but what it can purchase.
- New Home, New Car, New solution to a problem you have.
- I posted something this week on my Facebook and asked, what purchase have you most regretted? Anyone want to guess what most people said?
- Cars. That was the most common response. Student loans were another common response.
- Solomon ends this section suggesting that the only thing money might be good for is watching it slip through your fingers. That verse is probably best translated as the ESV has it.
- Ecclesiastes 5:11b (ESV) - … and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes?
- The one thing the one who has acquired much wealth can do is look at all his wealth accomplished. To behold how it has been spent.
- As a reminder, it is important to note that this is not only the wisest man to have ever lived up to that point, but he would have also been one of the wealthiest. Yet it seems that all that wealth did not bring happiness. To Solomon, wealth brought more problems than solutions.
- APP: What purchase are you looking at making in the near future in hopes it will fill a hole in your life? Do you really believe that it will?
Money cannot provide…
3 .Health. (Ecclesiastes 5:12-17. C/R: Mark 4:19)
- Ecclesiastes 5:12-17 (NLT) - 12 People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich seldom get a good night’s sleep. 13 There is another serious problem I have seen under the sun. Hoarding riches harms the saver. 14 Money is put into risky investments that turn sour, and everything is lost. In the end, there is nothing left to pass on to one’s children. 15 We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us. 16 And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind. 17 Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry.
- Again, we see the mention of the benefit of hard work, good sleep. But rich men or women, do not sleep well.
- I think this comes somewhat from the nature of work being performed. Hard, physical labor is generally not seen as beneficial for building wealth as more information or managerial work, but it might be better for our health.
- I think that it is odd that we spend so much money on our physical health, could it be because our work is not physically taxing or even intellectually taxing?
- Derek Kidner in his commentary on Ecclesiastes says it like this, “it is one of our human absurdities to pour out money and effort just to undo the damage of money and ease.”
- We spend money on Peleton, Whole30 or gym memberships because our wealth has allowed us the privilege to buy excess food, avoid backbreaking physical labor, or just afford to work less often.
- Solomon goes on to mention that not only does wealth bring problems, but we experience more problems to our own detriment by hoarding our money, losing it all and becoming so concerned about losing it that are daily lives become completely altered by our gloomy or angry disposition.
- Money cannot buy you more days on this earth or even guarantee that you will get a solution to your minor health issues. Your life becomes dull and stops producing fruit.
- In speaking about the four soils or the four conditions of the heart in which the Gospel can grow, Jesus mentions someone who is too connected to this world, the thorny soil.
- Mark 4:19 (NLT) - “… but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced.”
- Those concerns keep spiritual growth from happening.
- You should be significantly concerned if worry about your current status in life, desire for wealth or material desires are gnawing at your heart. They could be the very things that keep you from obtaining spiritual life or vitality.
- APP: Is your heart overflowing with life or are you struggling personally because of financial concerns?
B. But you can find satisfaction through...
1. Community. (Ecclesiastes 4:7-12)
- Ecclesiastes 4:7-12 (NLT) - 7 I observed yet another example of something meaningless under the sun. 8 This is the case of a man who is all alone, without a child or a brother, yet who works hard to gain as much wealth as he can. But then he asks himself, “Who am I working for? Why am I giving up so much pleasure now?” It is all so meaningless and depressing. 9 Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. 11 Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? 12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
- Solomon is describing the benefit of working for the benefit of someone else.
- I think this is an essential element of discipleship.
- ILL: Spiritual Practices of Introverts / Extroverts
- App: Membership Class/ Ministry Sampler
- A community is what God desires to create. He did it through the church.
- The example He gives us is the body of Christ.
- If you have been saved, given new life by Christ, you have a gift that is for the benefit of the body of Christ.
- Are you sharing your gift? Solomon shares that you can find satisfaction in sharing your gifts in community.
- You can see the safety and security and benefits of everyone involved in community.
But you can find satisfaction through...
2. Contentment. (Ecclesiastes 5:18-6:6. C/R: Mark 8:36)
- Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 (NLT) - 18 Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. 19 And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. 20 God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.
- Solomon shares that enjoying the wealth that God gives and accepting your gifts.
- Merriam Webster defines contentment as “feeling or showing satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation.”
- It does our body good to receive, enjoy and share what God has given to us. And Solomon wants us to see that we should not just enjoy it ourselves, but seek to share it.
- Ecclesiastes 6:3-6 (NLT) - 3 A man might have a hundred children and live to be very old. But if he finds no satisfaction in life and doesn’t even get a decent burial, it would have been better for him to be born dead. 4 His birth would have been meaningless, and he would have ended in darkness. He wouldn’t even have had a name, 5 and he would never have seen the sun or known of its existence. Yet he would have had more peace than in growing up to be an unhappy man. 6 He might live a thousand years twice over but still not find contentment. And since he must die like everyone else—well, what’s the use?
- Embracing the path that God has chosen for you is vital to your spiritual health. But it is also vital to the health of the community.
- When you learn to enjoy your gifts and contributions, you can then give generously and help others learn to enjoy their gifts as well.
- This is what the church is meant to be. Mutually beneficial serving, all to the glory of God.
- But lack of contentment leads to great loss in churches, families, business and in individuals.
- Solomon says that you can have many things in life that we would call blessings: riches, a large family, many years, and yet still be dissatisfied. He says that it would be better to be born dead than to be this man.
- Many grieve the loss of a stillborn child but if a man has no one that he has shared his life with, then he would have no one mourn his loss.
- Mark 8:36 (NLT) - “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?”
- That is the problem with your desire for more. If you are constantly dreaming, searching, and working towards more, you will miss what is available to you now.
- Strong desires for the things of this world are not cute little minor issues. They could be costing you your very soul.
- Taste and See the glorious gifts of the Lord, enjoy what He has given, and place your faith in Him or you will lose your soul and be cast into hell for eternity. (Psalm 34:8; Mark 9:43 2 Thessalonians 1:9)
- If your desire for more is killing your soul, cut it off and give it all away. (Matthew 19:16-22)
- APP: Are you experiencing the benefits of a spiritual community? Are you willing to take a step this afternoon by coming to our Membership Class or Ministry Sampler and getting connected?
But you can find satisfaction through...
3. Christ. (Ecclesiastes 6:10-12. C/R: Genesis 3:15)
- Ecclesiastes 6:10-12 (NLT) - 10Everything has already been decided. It was known long ago what each person would be. So there’s no use arguing with God about your destiny. 11The more words you speak, the less they mean. So what good are they? 12In the few days of our meaningless lives, who knows how our days can best be spent? Our lives are like a shadow. Who can tell what will happen on this earth after we are gone?
- Solomon here is bringing us back to the creation of the world. God made everything good.
- But after Adam’s sin, his life is like a shadow, our lives are like a shadow. Passing by quickly.
- Only God determines what happens after our death.
- What a hopeless state, our lives are short, it is not up to us how much we truly meant. Is this all there is? What’s the Point?
- But all of this brokenness of this world should cause us to ask that question. It must cause us to look to God for a solution.
- If you are broken, already having purchased many new things or budgeting for new things to bring you satisfaction in this life you will be disappointed. Solomon knew this.
- But Solomon did not know the full picture of Christ coming to earth and what it would mean for humanity.
- Transformation is available through Christ alone. You can become generous and benevolent with your finances even if you are a stinking filthy miser. Christ can make you a great giver.
- God has designed for us to give and give generously and receive generously from Him and others around us.
- 2 Corinthians 8:9 (NLT) – You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that by His poverty He could make you rich.
- God became poor for you, so that you might experience the blessings of the kingdom of God.
- APP: How can you show God your gratitude for how He has shared his riches with you today?