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Whoever Loves Money

by David Johnson

IMG_0666(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

It is great to be together again as we look into the Word of God. The title for the lesson, “Whoever Loves Money.” The text is in the Old Testament, the book of Ecclesiastes chapter five verses 10 through 12. Listen to the Word of God. “Whoever loves money never has money enough. Whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This, too, is meaningless. As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them? The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep.” This is the Word of God. May he add his blessing to the public reading of his Word.

Money madness is certainly not new, whether we have a tendency to put too much emphasis on money or not, we certainly know people, even believers, who seem to love money or things that money can buy in an unbalanced, unspiritual way. The trouble is too many people are spending money they don’t have for things they don’t need to impress people they want to be like. Vanity of vanities, Solomon would say.
The love of money usually includes great care to get money, great trouble to keep money, great guilt in the abuse of money or great sorrow in the loss of money. So it is a great mistake to love money. King Solomon certainly knew a lot about wealth. After all, he was a king and God had given him great wisdom with which he imparts to us to learn and to share with others.
So let’s consider, again, Ecclesiastes chapter five verses 10 through 12. In verse 10 Solomon wrote: “Whoever loves money never has enough.” There are two basic extremes regarding the love of money. There are those that are hoarders of money. These are tight fisted about their money, misers, greedy, stingy. They won’t let their money go because they love their money for its own sake. We probably know a few with this mindset, a sick heart regarding their money. Someone has said in the past that all that we have, especially money, ultimately, is because God has given us the wealth and the health and the ability to keep it. Therefore, we should hold money in an open hand. It is when we close our fingers tightly over anything placed in our trust as stewards of God that we can lose the joy and the blessing money can bring if thought of and used properly, because the love of money and the love of things acquired as an end in themselves, can become idols and possess us.

The other extreme is being a spendthrift who wastes money and never has enough, loves money and what he can purchase. A foolish person who loves to spend money is described as, quote: “When your outgo exceeds your income your upkeep will become your downfall.” Either of these extremes, or covetousness in between, the love of money is usually never satisfying. There is no contentment. It is like drinking salt water, which makes you always thirsty. True contentment, especially with money, is not having everything you want and not wanting to have everything. That is true contentment, being satisfied with what we do have.

Even King Solomon learned when he wrote in verse 10: “Whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This, too, is meaningless.” I have known, and you have probably also known, people who obsessively had to have the very, very best of everything, all the name brands, the top products, the best services of everything. Very, very few can sustain this kind of obsession. Obsession for the very best, for wealth is a joy or a happiness killer. Obsessed to possess can become an addiction, an idol, a god when it becomes the focus, the prime priority of our lives.

Most believers would probably deny that money or wealth is really what drives their buying, their affections, their major time, effort and energy. Yet their attitude and their actions speak volumes so that in reality their mindset is that money may not be the number one thing in my life, but it is far ahead of whatever is number two. So it is really number one, whether they want to admit it or not. Let’s be honest. Is money really number one in our lives along with the things that money can buy? The constant money chase is a futile and vain vanity as a top pursuit in our lives. And if it is then we may be defined and valued simply by our money measurement. Is this a true measurement of who we are this yearning to make much money or to be concerned with how much money we have?
Then, for example, Jesus Christ himself in his humanity on earth didn’t measure up. He didn’t have a lot of money. He didn’t need a lot of money. He certainly was not possessed by money.

 

In Ecclesiastes chapter five and verse 11 it says: “As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owner, except to feast his eyes on them?” Consume here probably refers to goods eaten or possessions used up by dependents, children, relatives, friends. The owner can see them all disappear as they are consumed. As goods increase, so also increase the mouths. And imagine Solomon writing this. Imagine a King’s court with all the leeches and the spongers and the parasites. Money attracts moochers. I read of a famous athlete who before his fame was too poor to even buy body deodorant, but once he became rich and famous, now this same athlete needs a personal body guard, but also a small army of lawyers and agents and accountants and trainers and handlers and hangers on, not a joyful life.

In Ecclesiastes chapter five and verse 12 it says: “The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much.” Now the context here could be an honest day’s hard work, real toil that brings sleep, but also brings peace of mind to sleep, to sleep deeply. But the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep. Riches can buy comfort, but not contentment, not peace of mind. We can own riches or riches can own us. Riches can sometimes cause overeating and bring worries and bring sleeplessness, especially today. Do we need to invest it or lose it? Insure it or lose it? Spend it or get taxed and lose it? Some of the rich are so full, so very full that they keep an upset stomach, but empty in their souls. A rich bank account, but bankrupt spiritually. Many of the rich like this don’t sleep well and are worry warts.

I remember visiting with a very wealthy and accomplished insurance agent who was talking to one of his customers while I was in his office. This was evidently a very good account that this insurance agent handled and whatever the customer was saying to him seemed to really agitate this insurance agent. As he hung up, he reached down into the drawer in his desk and pulled out a bottle of Maalox and drank from the bottle right in front of me. Apparently his ulcers were acting up because of this conversation with his client. That is no way to live.
John D. Rockefeller, at the age of 53, was at the time the world’s only billionaire. It is reported that John D. Rockefeller earned about one million dollars per week. Imagine having that kind of paycheck. But also at age 53 John D. Rockefeller was very sick. It is reported that he lived on crackers and milk. And he couldn’t sleep due to his many money worries. Money can buy sleeping pills, but money cannot buy sweet, deep, restful sleep. However, John D. Rockefeller had a change of mindset and he started giving away a lot of his money, giving away his fortune. And his health improved, radically. And John D. Rockefeller lived to be age 98 and happy. Yet the other extreme is also true for many of the pitifully poor that are usually in poor health and cannot sleep well because they are hungry and or ill.

So what is the point? Money itself is amoral. It is not evil. It is a thing. But it is immoral to love money. The love of money is what is immoral, not money itself. But people loving money can make it immoral and not helpful but hurtful. Some great godly men and women of faith were very wealthy and rich. It is possible to be rich, to be wealthy and still have a vibrant relationship, first with God and then with others, and have real joy in your life. For example, in the Scriptures some that were very wealthy were Abraham, the Old Testament Joseph, the New Testament Joseph of Arimathea. Lydia, the dealer and seller of purple fabrics had wealth, because purple dye in the first century AD was an extremely expensive commodity, not a commodity so much, but a luxury, usually worn only by royalty or by the very wealthy.

Love should be reserved for God and people, not for money, not for things. Only God and people can love us back. Money can’t love us back. Things can’t love us back. So don’t be obsessed with money.

I remember reading about an incident dealing with money. This minister stood up one Sunday with an announcement to his congregation and he said: “I have good news and bad news. The good news is we have enough money to pay for our new building. The bad news is that the money is still in your pockets.” So as another great Christian, John Wesley, once said when it comes to money, “Make all you can, save all you can, but also give all you can.” And so we have very wise counsel from Solomon and from John Wesley.

May God bless us as we are stewards of his money and use it wisely.

 

David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.




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