The Spiritual Connection between Your Wallet and Your Heart
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, I greet you in the wonderful name of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is wonderful that we are able to join you wherever you are watching this morning and that you are able to join with us. Technology is certainly amazing, isn’t it? As we now come to the teaching of God’s word, it’s right that we bow our heads, that we bow our hearts so to speak and that we ask God to do a work in our hearts, that he might be glorified in and through us. Let’s bow in a word of prayer.
Father God in heaven, I thank you for your word. It is faithful and true. Upon it we can build our lives and our testimonies. It is sufficient for all of life. Lord God, in it we hear of your will for us and in it we see the person of Jesus Christ, high and lifted up. This morning Lord God, would you once again show us Jesus, would your Spirit move in our minds that we might be renewed, would your Spirit stir our hearts that Lord God our affections might be bent to the things of God. Father God, would you conform our lives towards the image of your dear son, that we might live our lives to His praise and glory. These things we pray in the wonderful name of Jesus Christ our Lord and our Saviour. Amen.
Well friends we find ourselves in a series, through the book of Ecclesiastes. We are in chapter 5:10 and following. In fact, we have been here for a couple of weeks. This is the third sermon in that miniseries. Over the last couple of weeks, we have raised the key theme of this passage of text. Randy Alcorn in The Treasure Principal reminds us, “15 percent of everything Christ said relates to [money and possessions]”. The writer of Ecclesiastes is speaking about money and possessions. In another place in The Treasure Principal, Randy Alcorn writes, “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.”
There is a Spiritual connection between your Wallet and your Heart. And because there is this spiritual connection between your wallet and your heart, Money Matters! Under the sun, in this messed up world, as you live out your short life on God's green earth, money matters because it is a litmus of your faith: how you use money is a demonstration of your spiritual transformation, your spiritual vitality. How you handle money is a living testimony to God working powerfully in you.
In Ecclesiastes 5:10-20, the preacher, Solomon, gives us a financial and spiritual health check. A test to see where we are regarding our heart and money. As we've said in previous weeks too many 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 or wealth.” Affluenza is a spiritual disease, an insatiable, unquenchable desire for more and more. And our culture is in the middle of an Affluenza pandemic. Affluenza is what drives high levels of personal debt in our country. Affluenza is what drives corruption in government, affluenza is what drives corruption in the public sector, what drives Ponzi pyramid schemes and get riches scams. It is Affluenza which makes the Prosperity Gospel so appealing in our culture.
This morning we're going to continue our test for Affluenza... a series of questions to determine if we're Affluenza positive. We have looked at three of these question over the past 3 weeks already.
The first question one is find in verse 10:
- 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?
It is the love of money, and not money itself, that is the problem. The love of money is a sin because it gets in the way of loving and worshiping God. You can chase as hard as you like after it, but you will never be satisfied with it even if you catch it. The love of money is like a drug, the more you take of it, the more you will need from it.
The second question as we do this diagnostic test to see if we are Affluenza positive was taken from the second half of verse 10:
- Do YOU have a something-shaped-hole in your heart? Warning: It’ll never be filled by more 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?
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 Himself. It can Never be Filled by Stuff! Ironically, riches, rather than fulfilling us, rather than satisfying us, produce the opposite of what we hope for, dissatisfaction.
Now question 3. As we diagnose, do we have spiritual affluenza:
3.) Do you thirst for friend’s money can buy? Warning: They cost more than they’re worth? (11)
- This question comes from the beginning of verse 11, “When good things increase, the ones who consume them will multiply; what, then, is the profit to the owner, except to gaze at them with his eyes?”
The last time that we were in this text, we spoke about this reality, this thirst for relationships that we have because we have been created in the image of a Relational God. Your relationships however are messed up because of the relational consequences of the fall of Adam. Money is just a catalyst for messed up relational beings to manifest more and more depravity towards God and towards one other. Friends, you won't find satisfaction in wealth or the kinds of friends that wealth can buy, but you can find satisfaction in the person of Jesus Christ.
That really brings us to the text that we are looking at today. And, the fourth question in our series of diagnoses test to see if we are affluenza positive is:
- Do YOU fantasize of a rich life? Warning: Abundance can turn into a nightmare (12)
- The text before us in verse 12 reads, “The sleep of the worker is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of the rich permits him no sleep.”
The labourer/ the working man toils by the sweat of his brow and then sleeps like a rock all night long. Why? Because a good night's rest is the reward of physical exertion. When you work hard, you may not earn a fortune, but you sleep like a log. Now, I might not be known for my hard labour or physical exertion and exploits, but on the odd occasion that I've worked in the garden: chopped wood, moved soil, or dug a hole, that night after washing up, I've collapsed into bed and slept like a dead man. I'm sure you have experienced something like that too. The text says, “whether he eats little or much”. I don't know if you've ever gone without a meal. Generally, that hurts. And it's not a pleasant way to fall asleep but I've experienced falling asleep on an empty stomach and it being sweet. In my younger days as a teenager, I spent quite a lot of time sailing. Out in the sun all day fighting against the wind. It would tire you out. Driving home in the car by my parents, I would often fall into such a deep sleep that when I got home, I'd be in no mood to be woken from it. In contrast: For the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep. The word abundance here in verse 12 (the second half of verse 12) has the same root word as the word “satisfied” in verse 10. One would think surely that the banquet of the rich would bring some degree of satisfaction. But it doesn't. It could be that the cares and worries of maintaining the abundance that he keeps the rich man awake at night or it could be the fatty diet and lack of exercise and ease that wealth brings, causes him indigestion and insomnia. Either way, the irony is, that what he longed for most, that he hoped would satisfy him, has become the source of his dissatisfaction.
Do YOU fantasize of a rich life? The warning must be: That Abundance can turn into a nightmare!
The fifth test, the fifth diagnostic question is:
- Do YOU save to insure against a rainy day? The warning to you this morning is that friend, you need to know that when it rains, it pours (13-14)
- The writer of Ecclesiastes pens, “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.”
Affluenza isn't the common cold. Affluenza is a pandemic, it’s frightening, it’s a disease, it’s a sickening tragedy. Solomon gives a case study of an affluenza positive patient: A man saved a whole lot of dough and put it in a piggy bank, hid it under a mattress, deposited it into a bank. He was rich, and with the wealth came new opportunities to invest. An investment banker, a private/personal financial adviser, a financial guy approached him and told him about a deal, a sure thing, a safe bet, and he fell for it hook line and sinker. In those days a business venture may have included a sea voyage or long journey. Ships could flounder at sea and camels would be attacked in the wilderness. Today people lose money in places like the stock market. Money was invested one day, and it was all gone the next.
Now let me caveat this point with a word of caution: This story isn't teaching that wealth is bad.
- 1 Samuel 2:7 tells us, “that the Lord makes rich, that He also exalts”. This story is also not teaching that saving is bad.
- Proverbs 21:20 says, “that the wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down”. This story is also not teaching that leaving a legacy is bad to your children.
- Proverbs 13:22 observes that, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his grandchildren”. This story is teaching of the fleeting nature of wealth and riches.
What is harmful in this text wasn't that the man was wealthy, wasn't that the man was saved, wasn't that the man left a legacy but that the man trusted in his wealth, trusted in his savings, trusted in his legacy and that trust proved to be misplaced.
Do YOU save to insure against a rainy day?
Friend, when it rains, it pours. The floods come up and the deluge sinks everything and, on that day, you find that all your savings that you have put your trust in, were for naught because your money and savings deliver no return.
The sixth diagnostic question:
- Do YOU find ultimate security in long-term financial planning? Warning: Temporal plans are short-sighted (15-16)
- “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?
When I read this, I thought of Jake. Many of you know Jake, he runs a funeral company. Jake has a number of cars: hearses, that vehicle used to carry the dead in a coffin/casket. Do you know what a hearse doesn't need? A hearse doesn't need obviously a tow bar. Because it doesn't matter how rich you are, you can't take any of it with you. The Egyptian Pharaohs thought that they could take their possessions with them into the afterlife. They'd be embalmed in those big tombs and pyramid and sarcophagi with all their favourite foods and all their favourite treasures and trinkets and even their favourite pets and would then be sent into the afterlife. But you know what archaeologists discovered when they bust open those tombs? Rotting bowls of fruit and dusty piles of gold, and decomposed bones of Fluffy, Ramses pet cat. Because it doesn't matter if you're a Pharaoh buried on the Nile or Joe Soap or Jabulani Selepi buried in our local cemetery at Crystal Park, you can't take your favourite breakfast cereal, you Kruger Rand or even your pet cat Fluffy with you into the afterlife! We plan as if sometimes we can. We save up, we invest up, we store up, we hoard stuff but in the end, when it's all said and done, when we've played our last hand, sung our last song, we go into eternity with the same set of clothing on as when we arrived with in this life.
Do YOU find ultimate security in long-term financial planning?
The warning to you must be that temporal plans are short-sighted my friend because life is short, and eternity so long.
The seventh question that we are going to look at this morning:
- Do YOU hope money will leave you healthy, happy and fulfilled? Warning: These are things money can't buy (17)
- “What is more, he eats in darkness all his days, with much frustration, sickness, and anger.”
In 1928, a group of the worlds’ most successful financiers met at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago. Listen to the calibre of those men present: The President of the largest independent steel company, The greatest wheat speculator, The President of the New York Stock Exchange, A member of the President's Cabinet, The greatest "bear" on Wall Street, The president of the Bank of International Settlements, The head of the world's greatest monopoly. Collectively, this handful of tycoons controlled more wealth than the United States Treasury. Twenty-five years later, this is what had happened to them: The president of the largest independent steel company, Charles Schwab, lived on borrowed money and the last five years of his life, he died penniless. The greatest wheat speculator, Arthur Cutten, died oversees, unable to pay the debts he owed. The president of the New York Stock Exchange, Richard Whitney, served a term in Sing Sing Prison. The member of the President's Cabinet, Albert Fall, was found guilty of conspiracy and bribery, and was eventually pardoned from prison so he could die at home. The greatest "bear" in Wall Street, Jesse Livermore, committed suicide. The president of the Bank of International Settlements, Leon Fraser, committed suicide. The head of the world's greatest monopoly, Ivar Drueger, committed suicide.
Ecclesiastes states it: There are things that money can't buy. If your hope is that money will grant you health, grant you happiness, fulfilment, purpose then you're putting your eggs in the wrong basket, you are betting on the wrong horse, you are misplacing your trust.
Do YOU hope money will leave you healthy, happy and fulfilled?
Friend, Ecclesiastes and these men’s testimony is a witness to you that there are things that money can't buy.
How do we go about applying this passage up to now? This passage is about money obviously, it is about wealth, it is about the pursuit of money, and the kinds of things that money affords apart from God. Apart from God, these things and money/wealth only lead to disappointment and dissatisfaction. It really boils down in this text I think to trust.
What do YOU put your trust in?
In the Bible the word trust literally means “a bold, confident, sure security or action based on that security.”
So, what do YOU put bold, confident, sure security in?
For many that are affluenza positive, their trust is in money. The satisfaction that money may afford. The security that money is hoped to afford. The pleasures that money promises to afford. Sooner or later, money will prove to be vapor to them, empty/meaningless. In this life or the next the illusion that money can grant satisfaction, security or lasting pleasure will be shown to be false, will be dashed against the rocks or will be shattered before your eyes. If this morning, you find yourself with this spiritual disease of the heart, a love for money or a trust in money that has robbed you of a love for God, you must to repent. To trust anything other than God Almighty for satisfaction, for security or for pleasure, is to undermine the sovereignty of God over all. It is the Lord God whom you are called to trust in. Not ourselves or the wealth that comes from this world. We trust in the Lord because He and He alone is truly worthy of trust. His word is trustworthy, His nature is faithful and true, His plans for us are perfect and purposeful. God has called upon all to place their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and their Saviour. And this call to trust in Him will never be misplaced. Jesus died for our sins, paying the price that we deserved. He rose from the grave, evidence that the payment to the Father required to appease His wrath was paid in full. We can put bold, confident, sure security, trust in Jesus Christ, because He has done it all and it is finished. The price has been paid. Eternity has been won. Abundant life is ours. We are safe and secure in His loving arms.
Friends under the sun, there is a relationship between our wallet and our heart in this!
Who do we put our trust in?
The wealth of this world and the temporal security it brings or Almighty God and the eternal security that He gives. If you are a believer and you have read through this this morning, let me remind you that God comes first, that we seek first the Kingdom of God and that anything else that He adds to us is a gift from Him. I would encourage you to read the last few verses of the passage before us that we will address in full next week Sunday.
Let’s close now in a word of prayer.
Father God in heaven, even as we close in prayer this morning, I do recognise that so often living our lives under the sun after the fall, in these bodies which still bear a semblance of the old self. Our hearts are called back to Egypt. Help us once again by your Holy Spirit moving within us to cause us to lift our gaze towards the promised land, towards Jesus Christ our Lord and our Saviour. In faith and trust, would we reject the easy answers and the opportunities of the world. To place our faith and trust in anything else other than God Alone. Might we found our security, our comfort, our delight, our joy, our pleasures in you Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. These things we pray in His most wonderful and blessed name. Amen.
Friends, we are going to close in a benediction this morning. The benediction is taken from the book of Ephesians chapter 3. I read to you verse 17-21. Hear the word of God:
“and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us— to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”