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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Empty Wallets - Ecclesiastes 5

Title: Empty Wallets
Text: Ecclesiastes 5:8-20

People today are living their lives with empty wallets. Even though they may have their wallets filled with money, initially their wallets are not filled with satisfaction. Here is a prime example: On September 29, 1916, the world’s first billionaire was name. Every week it was estimated that he made about $1 million a week. His net worth continues to grow every year (even though he died 63 years ago) at a steady $329.9 billion. His name was John D. Rockerfeller. He was an oil industrialist and entrepreneur who founded Standard Oil Company. John’s wealth soared and he became the world's richest man and is regarded as the richest person in history. However, even though his wallets were full, his money that he had did not give him satisfaction. Having all the wealth caused him to go through most of his life sick because he could hardly ever sleep and stop worrying about his money.

Eventually, he knew that the only way to get rid of these problems was to get rid of his money. Therefore, John started to give it away and donate. At the end of his life, wrote a poem to sum up the entire of his life: “I was early taught to work as well as play, My life has been one long, happy holiday; Full of work and full of play, I dropped the worry on the way, And God was good to me everyday.”

Chapter 5 begins explaining how we are to “keep up the Fear of the Lord, but it ends how to keep down the fear of man.” Continuing in Ecclesiastes 5, we come across the vanity and emptiness of money and riches. Solomon explains that there is an epidemic among those who peruse such wealth and riches in their lives; they find no pleasure in their money.

Commercial – Have you seen the money lending commercial where different people yell out of their home windows, “That’s my money, and I need it now!” You can see the urge people have to get money they did not work for and just want it so they can be happier in life. The commercial perfectly identifies the false hope about money in the world:

A. Having money will make you happy.
B. Having money will take care of every problem.
C. Having money will give you peace.

Wealth, riches, treasures, money; these things are gifts from God. However, if the focus is on the gifts more than the Giver, all of these things will provide temporary pleasure, but will not bring satisfaction to your soul that longs for the word of life. Yes, its good to have the things that money can busy, provided you don’t lose the things that money can’t buy. This is the most important principle Solomon will address. There are several warnings Solomon gives us about being greedy and loving money in verses 5:8-17.

Solomon was one who personally was in love with riches.

A. 1 Kings 10:21 says “Everything Solomon had was made of precious gold. Not one was silver, for this was accounted as nothing in the days of Solomon.”

B. Ecclesiastes 2:8 says, “I (Solomon) also gathered for myself silver and god and the special treasures of kings and of the provinces…but this was also vanity.” At the end of his life, Solomon saw that his wallet was empty. There was a ton of gold in it, but no God. He could not enjoy his wealth and did not find satisfaction. Solomon will show us several different situations where money becomes an agent of corruption in political greed, personal greed, and profitable greed.

1. Political Greed.
(5:8) – As Solomon continues to journey around Jerusalem examining all the activities done under the sun, he leaves the Temple place and walks over to the City Hall, where he sees political corruption. The officials of the kingdom are oppressing the people with high taxes, robbing them of their rewards for their hard work. “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” How relevant is the Scriptures! This is exactly what is happening today! Almost 3000 years about, Solomon penned this book by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and today it is as relevant as if Solomon wrote last weekend. Our government has been corrupted by greedy politicians and CEO’s, putting our economy into the tank. We have “bailed out” billions to those who should be getting billions taken away from them, and the bureaucracy of government is complete against the wisdom of the word of God.

Deuteronomy 16:19 says, “You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous.”

However, Solomon says, “Do not be marveled at this! It is going to happen.” We are not to get bent out of shape when politics and government get out of control. The Bible says it will happen, because man’s heart is full of wickedness. Therefore, Solomon tells us to look to the Lord in these times, because God is their overseer. He is the Highest official over all of them, and he will judge them for their works.

Psalm 47:2 says, For the LORD Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth.”

2. Personal Greed.
(5:10) – Here the is root of the problem with wealth. “He who loves silver.”

The Apostle Paul tells Timothy to watch out for this.
1 Timothy 6:9-10 says, “But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.”

Jesus tells the multitudes and his disciples to watch out for this.
Luke 12:15-23,29-32: And He said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses." Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: "The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops? 'So he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, [and] be merry." 'But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?' "So [is] he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." Then He said to His disciples, "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body [is more] than clothing. "And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.”

3. Profitable Greed.
(5:11) – How come when we make more we spend more? Have you ever noticed that? Why is it? We desire to have more and more and more. We are the only country who spends money we don’t have, on things we do not need, and cannot pay back. What’s wrong with this picture? This is exactly what Solomon proposes he in this verse. The more profitable you are, the more you increase in luxuries and expenses. Do not let this overtake you. It is easy to do this when you get a raise, or get some birthday money, however, you should consider the wise sayings of Solomon in Proverbs 3:9-11, “Honor the LORD with your possessions and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.”

Now we see the results of loving money:
1. Money Brings Stress (v. 5:12)
2. Money Brings Pain (v. 5:13)
3. Money Brings Problems (v. 5:14)
4. Money Brings Disappointment (v. 5:15-17)

Doing this God’s way.
(v. 5:18-20) So as Christians, are we to hate money? No, we are to enjoy it as a gift from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! Warren Wiersbe puts it like this, “If we focus more on the gifts (money) than on the Giver, we are guilty of idolatry. If we accept His gifts, but complain about them, we are guilty of ingratitude. If we hoard His gifts and will not share them with others, we are guilty of indulgence. But if we yield to His will and use what He gives us for His glory, then we can enjoy life and be satisfied.”

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