Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wisdom Wednesday: Ecclesiastes 5: Wealth is meaningless?

Hey gang!

Wednesday again and time for us to continue Wisdom Wednesday and looking at Ecclesiastes. Today, we hit the high notes of Chapter 5.

The first seven verses are titled as the quick mouth of a fool. Verse 1 tells us immediately to go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools. Solomon is telling us how often that it is better to be a listener than a talker. We learn things by listening to people. If we listen long enough, we can get a bead on peoples’ moods, attitudes, and what is really on their mind.

The end of verse 2 talks about letting our words be few. God doesn’t need a rambler. You know, the type of people that never seem to shut up. I know at an earlier part of my life, I always worried what people were thinking in the moments of silence. Sometimes, they aren’t thinking anything. However, there are times that the few words turn the crank on lots of ideas in a person’s head. Most of us need time to sort that out before we start talking.

Verse 3 says, “As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words.” I want to sit on the front end of that comment for a moment. I never really thought about it before, but have you ever noticed that the weirdest dreams seem to come out when you have a lot of thoughts going around in your head. I’d love to know if that’s true for you, too.

Verse 4 tells us to make sure that when we make a commitment to God, that we follow through. He wants us to be responsible to him and adds in verse 5 that if we can’t deliver on a promise, we shouldn’t make one. James 5:12 tells us, “Above all, my brothers, do not swear--not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your yes be yes and your no, no, or you will be condemned.”

Verse 7 tells us that much dreaming and many words are meaningless. The words often mean nothing. But Solomon also tells us here to stand in awe of God. Why? Because he is the personification of truth.

Starting in verse 8, we begin to talk about money as meaningless, at least wealth is considered as such. Verse 10 is very much about today’s society. “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.” Do you ever notice that we say that when that raise comes that we’ll do this or that? We’ll donate more to the church, give more to the poor, take care of our debt better. The list goes on. But when that raise does come, we often find something else to do with it or the cost of everything else rises with it. It’s a repetitive cycle that never gets fed.

Verses 13-14 talk about the bad things that happen with wealth. People hoard or have misfortune and lose it. Have you ever noticed that lottery winners hardly ever stay rich? Some report I read was that around 70% end up in bankruptcy within a few years. Solomon takes wealth a step further in Verse 15. He tells us that we come in naked and go out the same way. The old adage “You can’t take it with you” is true. I’ve listened to some crazy stories of people having things they cherish buried with them. You can find out how vane a person is by what they have buried in the casket with them.

Solomon talks next about how we eat in darkness, frustrated and angry in verse 17. He almost sounds depressed at this point feeling that our work and the money that comes from it leaving us less than satisfied. Do you ever notice when you help a transient and give them a meal how satisfied they are just to get the food and then think about how many times you hear people complain their food isn’t perfect in a restaurant. My friend Jimmy told me the story of a man he had breakfast with one Sunday morning that complained that he never got his eggs with his meal. He made a pretty big scene about it. After a minute or two, the waitress brought the eggs. He didn’t touch them. When Jimmy asked him if he was eating them, he told him that he never ate the eggs. And this ladies and gentlemen is exhibit A on why waitresses hate serving Christians on Sunday before and after church.

However, Solomon begins to think about the positive of work and eating the food and enjoying the nice things that are accumulated in verse through the rest of the chapter. He again tells us to be able to enjoy all of these things are a gift from God.

I love the closing verse here, “He seldom reflects on the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.” Are we satisfied in our work, the wages we make and the fact that we have a job in times like these? Solomon shows us here that it is a matter of attitude on which we decide if it is meaningless or not. So do you have a glad heart? Has God helped you have a good attitude about your place in life? Feel free to share stories of how God has helped you have that attitude.

Next week, we’ll look at Chapter 6.

I love you guys!
Frank

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