Ecclesiastes 6: Prosperity
October 8, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Jeremiah 16-18, Ecclesiastes 6, John 3:1-15, James 4:1-10
But, a person may well ask, what about money? What about prosperity and financial success? Surely that is something that has meaning, even “under the sun”? Well, let us consider that, says the “teacher” of Ecclesiastes.
There are several reasons why money (and its pursuit) is not a satisfying object for a meaningful human existence. To begin with, he finds, actually, that those who are most wealthy do not really enjoy it! Was it John Paul Getty who was once asked how much money is enough, and he replied, “just a little bit more”? “Better what the eye sees than the roving of the appetite.” In other words, it is better to enjoy what you have than to work hard to attain what you do not have and so not enjoy what you possess right now. And yet the very thing that is so often necessary to find pursuit is discontentment with the status quo. And each time you reach a new goal, then after a little while you become discontent once again—and on and on it goes, never satisfied. It does not matter if you live a hundred years or a thousand years and attain great prosperity, if you have no real joy, then (says the “teacher”) it’s better never to have been born.
These are hard truths, and yet necessary for us to take on board—especially in a culture that so worships wealth and prosperity. In many ways, what is wrong with the so-called “prosperity gospel” is not just that it is heresy (though it is), but it is not even a gospel, it is not good news. If you really want to curse someone, just give him a winning lottery ticket. Watch his family fall apart, watch his friends turn into enemies, and watch his life fall apart into ruin.
All, even prosperity, is meaningless, a chasing after the wind; it is hebel, vanity, emptiness, a puff of smoke—here for a moment and then blown away and gone.
That is, “under the sun.” Once again, we must read this in the context of the larger theme of the book to explore whether it is possible to find a truly meaningful life just with a this-world, “under the sun,” not personally knowing God or seeking him perspective. This time he tries prosperity. And he discovers that even prosperity disappoints. What then? The answer is to find our joy in none other than God himself! If you are rich, then use your riches for the advance of God’s kingdom. Don’t feel disappointed if you cannot have as nice a car as someone else who earns the same amount of money as you do. Pity them for not being as generous as you are going to be! There is more joy to be found in one dollar given for the cause of Christ than a thousand dollars stored in a bank account. Give it to him! Use it for his kingdom. If in doubt, read what Paul teaches on this in 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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