A Money Driven Heart Cannot be Satisfied by More Money
SCRIPTURE READING - Ecclesiastes: 5:10 – 20
The one who loves silver is never satisfied with silver, and whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with income. This too is futile. When good things increase, the ones who consume them multiply; what, then, is the profit to the owner, except to gaze at them with his eyes? The sleep of the worker is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of the rich permits him no sleep. There is a sickening tragedy I have seen under the sun: wealth kept by its owner to his harm. That wealth was lost in a bad venture, so when he fathered a son, he was empty-handed. As he came from his mother’s womb, so he will go again, naked as he came; he will take nothing for his efforts that he can carry in his hands. This too is a sickening tragedy: exactly as he comes, so he will go. What does the one gain who struggles for the wind? What is more, he eats in darkness all his days, with much frustration, sickness, and anger. Here is what I have seen to be good: It is appropriate to eat, drink, and experience good in all the labor one does under the sun during the few days of his life God has given him, because that is his reward. Furthermore, everyone to whom God has given riches and wealth, he has also allowed him to enjoy them, take his reward, and rejoice in his labor. This is a gift of God, for he does not often consider the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with the joy of his heart.
Well friends, I greet you in the wonderful name of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we now come to the teaching of God's Word, it is right that we spend some time coming before the Lord, asking Him to strengthen me as I deliver the Word and asking Him to move in our hearts and our mind that we might receive the word to His praise and glory. Let’s bow our heads and pray.
Father God in Heaven, this morning I feel appropriately weak. Lord in my weakness, would you demonstrate your strength. Father God this morning as I preach, I ask would your word not return void. Would you be glorified in all things, would you be exalted even as your word is read and your word is taught, might men hear and believe. Lord God might your church be built up and edified. Oh, might we become doers of your word that your glory and your fame and your renown would shake our city. We ask these things not for our glory sake but for the sake of your son, Jesus Christ our Lord and our Saviour. Amen.
Last week, we began the series looking through Ecclesiastes 5:10 and following. You may remember if you were with us and if you weren’t, you can go online to our website and find the sermon. You may remember that we began to talk about Money. One of the key quotes which I used from a book written by Randy Alcorn called The Treasure Principal. In it he wrote, “15 percent of everything Christ said relates to [money and possessions]”. A little bit later he said, “There’s a fundamental connection between our spiritual lives and how we think about and handle money. We may try to divorce our faith and finances, but God sees them as inseparable.”
Money Matters! You will hear that from your tax consultant, your financial advisor and possibly even your hairdresser, but not for the same reasons that Scripture puts forward. This is the perspective that God's Word gives in the book of Ecclesiastes: Under the sun, in this messed up world, as we live out our short lives on God's green earth. Money Matters because it is a litmus of our faith, a demonstration of our spiritual transformation and a living testimony to God working powerfully in us.
We're in the book of Ecclesiastes, we are in chapter 5 and we're looking at verses 10 through 20. Guided by Solomon; the preacher, the searcher and the writer of the book, we're doing a financial and spiritual health check. We're testing where we are regarding our heart and money.
You see, too many of us are suffering from a terrible case of Affluenza. Influenza is the flu... Affluenza, marries the words influenza and affluence – which is “the state of having a great deal of money; wealth.” Affluenza is a spiritual disease, an insatiable, unquenchable desire for more and more. And our culture is in the middle of an Affluenza spiritual pandemic.
This morning we're going to continue our test for Affluenza. We're going to ask a series of questions to determine if we are affluenza positive.
Just to recap last week, we got through the first half of verse 10. God willing, today we will get through a bit more. We asked the first question last week. The first question is:
- Do YOU chase after money, but are never satisfied when you get it? (10a)
- Verse 10a reads, “The one who loves silver is never satisfied with silver,”
Do YOU chase after Money?
Just to be clear, it is the love of money, and not money itself, that is the problem. Our text talks of the “one who loves silver”. The love of money is a sin because it gets in the way of worshiping God Almighty.
Do YOU chase after money, but are Never Satisfied?
- The love of money is like a drug, the more you take of it, the more you'll want of it.
Do YOU chase after money, but are never satisfied when you get it?
Are you Affluenza Positive?
Our second point comes from the second half of verse 10. In some way I guess it is a repetition. It says and the question that I am going to ask is:
- Do YOU have a something-shaped-hole in your heart, that is never filled by stuff? (10b)
- Our text reads, “and whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with income. This too is futile.”
“Do YOU have a Something-Shaped-Hole in your Heart?”
- “Whoever loves wealth”
The Biblical answer is that you do have a something-shaped-hole in your heart: you know something's missing inside... something's off... something's not quite right. There is an emptiness, a void. Sometimes we bury it deep down in our soul but every now and again it pops up. Built into all of humanity is an innate longing for something outside ourselves.
The write of Ecclesiastes says in 3:11, “we read that God has placed eternity in man’s heart.”
You have an eternity-shaped-hole in your heart. An eternity-shaped-hole that can only be filled by He who is eternal, by He who has no beginning and no end, by He who is and who was and is to come. God made us for Himself, and only God Himself can fulfil our desire for eternity.
But man, wicked as we are, rebellious to our core, sin soaked and depraved, deny that we have a God-shaped hole and try to fill the void with anything else we can set our affections to. Our hearts hunger after idols rather than the divinely ordained solution to our longings. Jeremiah 17:9 well describes the condition of our hearts. “The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable—who can understand it?” Solomon even in this book reiterates the same concept, “the hearts of people are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live” (Ecclesiastes 9:3). The New Testament concurs, “The mindset of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit to God’s law. Indeed, it is unable to do so.” (Romans 8:7). Romans 1 describes, “humanity ignoring what can plainly be known about God, including presumably the “God-shaped hole,” and instead worshiping anything and everything other than God”
Friends, just like a square peg cannot fill a round hole, that void inside of you cannot be filled by anyone or anything other than God. Only a personal relationship with God through the person of Jesus Christ will satisfy your hearts longings. It's the way that we've been designed. In the words of St Augustine, “We were made for eternity, that God has made us for Himself and that our hearts will be restless until they rest in Him.”
“If you're trying to fill a something-shaped-hole in your heart with money, it won't take long too realise it can't be done!”
- Our text says, “it is never satisfied with income.”
You were designed to worship God and enjoy Him forever. That's why He created you. You are fit for a purpose. And until you're fulfilling your purpose, something's going to be wonky.
Lawn mowers are fit for a purpose. They are designed to cut grass. Let's say your lawn mower has a mind of its own and decides it doesn’t like cutting grass anymore but wants to cut gravel or water instead, disaster would ensue. The blades of a lawnmower are designed to cut grass. That’s what a lawn mower does. That's all it does. If it deviated from what it was designed for and began mowing stones or puddles, it would certainly damage itself and probably hurt others in the process.
We were designed to worship God and enjoy Him forever. If we exchange love for God, for love for anything else (money, fame, power, pleasure, sex, drugs, electronics, games) we're destined for disaster.
- Are you fulfilling your purpose?
- Do you understand what you are fit for?
- Do you long to do what you have been created for?
- What you have been designed for?
- Are you worshipping God and finding your enjoyment in Him?
- Or, in response to this feeling that something is missing, something is not right, something is off, are you trying to fill the void with something else? The search for wealth, affluence, prosperity, riches.
Hear the word of the writer of Ecclesiastes this morning, “whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with income.”
Ironically, riches produce the opposite of what one would hope. They produce dissatisfaction.
Are you Affluenza Positive?
The first question was:
- Do you chase after money, but are never satisfied when you get it? (10a)
The second question is:
- Do you have a something-shaped-hole in your heart, that is never filled by stuff? (10b)
The third question that we are going to have time to look at this morning is:
3.) Do you thirst for “friendship”, but cringe at the cost? (11a)
- This question comes from the beginning of verse 11, “When good things increase, the ones who consume them will multiply;”
“You thirst for Relationships because you're Created in the Image of a Relational God”
So much of the Bible concerns relationships.
- Persons of the Godhead
- God and man
- God and Israel
- God and the elect
- God and the nations of the world
- Husbands and wives
- Parents and children
- Employer and employees
- Pastors and congregations and members of congregations
So much of the Bible concerns relationships.
A Biblical study of relationships starts with the opening words of Scripture which introduce us to a relational God:
- Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
- The word God there in Genesis 1:1 is, “Elohim”, it is plural - it carries embedded in it the tantalising possibility of relationship.
- Genesis 1:2 introduces the third Person of the trinity, “the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.”
- And then, on the sixth day, this relational God creates man in His relational image. God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness” (Genesis 1:26).
And so, it doesn't surprise us that we read of man's relational need in Genesis 2:20. The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. God's solution, I will make a helper corresponding to him.” God sets about revealing to Adam his need for a companion by getting him to name the animals. Mr and Mrs Elephant, Mr and Mrs Pelican, and Mr and Mrs kangaroo are paraded before him, and they come in two by two and he notices that they're all living joyfully, paired with mates but for the man, no helper was found corresponding to him. So, God makes Eve and man sees her and is like, “Wo! That turned out better than expected!” And the two live together in joyful, blissful union. It's a story about relationship: Relationship between God and man, and man and wife.
“Your Relationships are Messed up because of the Relational Consequences of the Fall”
But in Genesis 3, the world is turned upside down and inside out isn't it? When Adam and Eve sin, when they wilfully rebel against God. It shouldn't come as any shock to us to realise that man's first sin against God very quickly manifests in relational fallout. Between man and God and between husband and wife. Listen to how Adam throws Eve under the bus. After she is deceived by the serpent, she takes the fruit that God had command them not to eat of and shares it with Adam. God says to Adam, “Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man replied, “The woman you gave to me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate” (Genesis 3:11-12). It's either the woman's fault, God or it's your fault! Relationships in ruin!
Principals we can draw out of these first few chapters of God's Word include:
- Relationships are for our good, according to God's design and good purpose.
- In God’s natural order, reflecting His own trinitarian nature, men should dwell among one another in peace and harmony.
- But relationships, like everything else, have been affect by the fall.
- Because of the presence of sin, men dwell in conflict and disharmony.
- Under the sun relationships are ruined.
“Money is just a catalyst for Messed up Relational Beings to Manifest more and more Depravity”
- Our text says, “When good things increase, the ones who consume them multiply.”
Are you asking, “Who are these “one's” that are multiplying and consuming the increase of men?” There are plenty of contenders: Never-mind your relative wealth, the taxman wants his “donation”. And if you fall into a truly wealthy bracket your tax consultant, accountant, lawyer, BBEEE score-carder and other professional service providers want a slice of your, now rapidly diminishing, pie too. And then there are the spongers, the freeloaders and the hangars-on (which is who I think Solomon has in mind). Money buys friends, lots and lots of friends. Film stars have entourages, raps stars have a posses, gangsters have henchmen and you might have lackeys. Doesn't matter what you call them they live off what you have earned. “These friends”, “these relatives” and “these other interested parties” who stand in line for a handout. No matter who they are, the more you have, the more other people will try to get it.
This works out differently, but the same, whether you stay in Chief Albert Luthuli or Ebotse Golf Estate. Whether so-called “friends” come to your house because you buy quarts of Zamalek or because you buy bottles of Johnny Walker Private Collection, they're still there for what they can get. Whether you put a zinc roof over the head of your so-called “friend” or buy them a brand spanking new car, they're still in it for a handout. And you get that once the money dries out, so do they. These kinds of people are just hoping to get their grubby little paws on a little more before the coffers run dry.
Even churches have people who weasel into our mist. People who get ahead by flattering people and taking advantage of them. (James 1:16).
“You won't find satisfaction in Wealth or the kinds of Friends that Wealth can Buy, but you can find satisfaction in Christ”
You understand that these so-called “friends” won't satisfy your soul. They not friends in the Biblical sense. When God noted that it is not good for the man to be alone, His solution never envisioned the kind of leeches that are here today and gone tomorrow. The kind of leeches that are here today while cash is being doled out and gone tomorrow when the wallet runs dry. No, Scripture repeated warns the wise man to guard himself against people like this.
You're right to ask the question, “What does true friendship look like and where can it be found?” Jesus says, “This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12-13).
When we think about that, I'm guessing that we think about it in the present and as an imperative. This is something I 've got to do and something I've got to do now. But I want you to lift your eyes for a moment, off yourselves and cast them upon Jesus Christ. The command to love one another is in light of His having loved us... in the past! And then He describes the greatest manifestation of His love, He laid down His life for His friends. That's what Christ's friendship looks like. Messiah came and laid down His life that His friends might live.
We sing, “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear”
“What does a friend of Jesus look like?”
A friend of Jesus obeys His commands and loves one another. Isn't interesting how Jesus comes and restores our relationship with God and then restores our relationship with others and then calls us to live in right relationship with them. Under the sun, in this sin-soaked world where relationships are ruined and devastated, Jesus Christ restored them, first between God and man and then between husbands and wives, between parents and children, employer and employees, pastors and congregations and members of congregations too.
Friends, this world is a mess. You're a mess. You've sinned, you've wilfully rebelled against God. Your relationship with Him is in tatters. Jesus came into this world and lived the life you could not and then He died, for your sin, He bore the penalty that you deserve. The Good News is that Jesus Christ arose from the grave and ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God on high. And He will come again soon to judge the quick and the dead and on that day the only thing that will separate those who are saved from those who are doomed is whether or not we have a relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Whether or not we are counted as friends of Jesus Christ, blood bought by the lamb of God, names written in the lamb’s book of life. It is commanded that all man repent this day and live.
Turn away from your sins. Turn away from your self-love. Turn away from your love for this world, your love for wealth and love for fake friends. Turn away from these things and put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour and you will live, you will be counted as a friend of Christ. This day live to Gods praise and glory, in restored relationships with those around you and a restored relationship with our Father that is in heaven.
Let’s bow our heads and pray to an Almighty God.
Father short of Jesus Christ this can never be true of us. Short of your Holy Spirit within our hearts, transforming us and conforming us towards the image of Christ. This can never be true of us and yet precisely because you are God, precisely because you came into this world Lord Jesus, precisely because you move in our hearts and in our minds Holy Spirit, we can live under the sun, lives to your praise and to your glory. Renew our minds, stir our hearts, help us to produce fruit in our lives that we might live now and you might receive much praise and glory in this life even as we will praise and glorify you forever and ever in the life to come. These things we pray in the wonderful name of Jesus Christ. He is Lord and Saviour. Amen.
Friends, the benediction this morning is taken from the book Jude. I read to you the last 2 verses of that great book. Jude 1:24-25 says:
“Now to him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of his glory, without blemish and with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen.”