Day 12: Attitudes toward money (5:10,11)
“He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?” (5:10,11)
Before we consider the subject of attitudes toward money, which dominate the rest of the chapter, one way or another, we consider something that is strangely related – attitudes toward the poor, which is something we have already seen on our journey through Ecclesiastes and, before that, Proverbs: “If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they” (5:8). In a way, poverty and money, or rather the lack of, are related. Here it is the Preacher’s matter of fact observation “that the government oppresses the poor and denies them justice and their rights. Every official is protected by someone higher, and both are protected by still higher officials” (5:8 GNT). While we shouldn’t be surprised because that is the way things are, it should be cause for concern and something to exercise our conscience, in knowing how best to respond.
Back to money – as the song from the musical “Cabaret” reminds us: “Money makes the world go around, the world go around, the world go around; money makes the world go around, it makes the world go ’round”. Money is a driving force behind so much that goes on under the sun. Money has positive aspects, such as noted by John Wesley: “Earn all you can, give all you can, save all you can”, but more on that tomorrow. For now, we will reflect on the negative aspects. Money does not satisfy; the more have the more we want and, unlike those who do not have money, we might spend an inordinate amount of time worrying because of it. Accumulation of wealth is subject to the uncertainties of life – we can just as easily lose the money we have as we are to acquire more of it. Besides the Preacher’s salutary observation of the untoward effects of how it is when people love money, the Bible is full or warnings against making money a personal driving force: “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” 1 Timothy 6:10. The priorities that should guide our life decisions can be seen in the words of Jesus: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” Matthew 6:19-21.
Prayer: Free us dear Lord from the love of money and forgive us from being sucked in to wanting to become rich when you call us to seek first the kingdom of God, and your righteousness, knowing that the things that truly matter shall be added onto us.