As we move through the book of Ecclesiastes at The Fellowship, last Sunday I dealt with how we handle money and possessions. The message came from chapters 5 and 6 but also drew from several passages in the New Testament. Here are my teaching note and the video of the message is below.
If I Only Had More – Ecclesiastes 5:8-6:12
Buying someone else’s junk at yard sales. It’s as if flea markets are the original recyclers. We sell stuff we don’t want to get money to buy things other people don’t want.
The passage holds four warnings and the New Testament provides us with four truths to guide us forward.
1. Possessions never satisfy (5:10, 11; 6:1-3)
- We are eternal beings. Nothing temporary can fill the need we have for the eternal.
- TV show: Hoarders = hoarding is a mental condition. We know it is a problem and yet we all give in to the impulse.
- 2009 study in the University of Rochester’s Journal of Research and Personality found pursuit of wealth and fame do not contribute to a happy and satisfying life. Achieving personal goals like personal growth, having friends, and helping others brought more satisfaction than attaining the “American dream.”
- We are not owners, only managers
- God owns everything. Ps. 24:1 – The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord
- Joyfully manage what is put in our hands.
2. Possessions cannot bring peace (5:12)
- Abundance demands that you continue to amass more.
- The pursuit of stuff is all-consuming.
- Wealthy people are no more happy than the rest of us.
- Survey by Lincoln Financial Group showed that among retirees who had saved $1 million, 48% still worried they did not have enough.
- Wealthy fear being sued, identity theft, asset protection, worrying about kids, and keeping up with the Joneses.
- “Possessions should be tools for our hands, not idols for our hearts.” -Marty Duren
- Luke 6:38 — Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over—will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.
- The possessions we have are to be leveraged for the good of those around us.
- Money is a tool to empower us as we participate in the life of God’s kingdom.
- If we trust money to bring peace, anxiety is the result. If we use money for God’s kingdom, peace is the result.
3.Wealth can bring harm (5:13, 14)
- Lottery winners never keep it. Celebrities are exploited. Market forces change.
- Too often, we place our faith in our stuff instead of our Savior.
- Eats in darkness, sorrow, sickness and anger. Sounds like Ebenezer Scrooge.
- Followers of Jesus should hold on to things gently.
- Be content with the things we have.
- 2 Corinthians 8:13-14 – 13 It is not that there may be relief for others and hardship for you, but it is a question of equality— 14 at the present time your surplus is available for their need, so their abundance may also become available for our need, so there may be equality.
- At different times we may experience abundance or need. If everyone is holding possessions loosely, we are freed to meet the needs of others, while others are freed to meet our needs.
4. You cannot take it with you (5:15-17)
- No matter how hard you work, it stays here.
- Joyful generosity reflects the heart of God.
- We have a generous God so we should not be a stingy people.
- 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 — 6 Remember this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each person should do as he has decided in his heart —not reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver.
- Ultimately, it all points to the core of our life = Gospel
- 2 Corinthians 9:15 – Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.