The Injustice of Wealth
As I entered seminary in 1999, I had a mutual fund that was really growing, especially in the science and tech investment that was part of my portfolio. Not planning to cash any of it in, I saw it as a back-up plan to cover my seminary costs, if needed. With the tremendous growth in a short period of time, I wondered if I should “spread the wealth” to other parts of my fund. But the council I received was to leave it, since I would incur capital gains taxes. To my dismay, the Dotcom Bubble burst in 2001 and my mutual fund decreased by seventy percent. Needless to say, I was terribly disappointed about the loss of wealth.
- What disappointments have you experienced with financial wealth?
Read the Word
Ecclesiastes 5:8-20 (ESV)
8 If you see in a province the oppression of the poor and the violation of justice and righteousness, do not be amazed at the matter, for the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them. 9 But this is gain for a land in every way: a king committed to cultivated fields.
10 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. 11 When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes?12 Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.
13 There is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owner to his hurt, 14 and those riches were lost in a bad venture. And he is father of a son, but he has nothing in his hand. 15 As he came from his mother's womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand. 16 This also is a grievous evil: just as he came, so shall he go, and what gain is there to him who toils for the wind? 17 Moreover, all his days he eats in darkness in much vexation and sickness and anger.
18 Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. 19 Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God. 20 For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.
- The Preacher pointed out that a king committed to cultivating the fields would produce a financial benefit for his kingdom (vs. 9). What injustice—due to the hierarchy of corrupt officials who benefitted from this financial wealth—was he also pointing out (vs. 8)?
- In verses 10-12, why was it vanity to covet financial wealth?
- What were two misfortunes of hoarding financial wealth (vss. 13-17)?
- In verses 18-20, why did the Preacher instruct the people of Israel “to eat and drink and find enjoyment” in all their work?
- Are you focused more on the injustices that come with your financial wealth or the benefits from it? What would be different if you saw financial wealth as a gift from God?
Respond to God
Apart from God, financial wealth can be an injustice to endure—corrupt governments and sinful people abuse it. Anxiety, sleeplessness, and taxing watchfulness result from coveting it. And if we hoard it, we can end up losing it though poor choices, gaining nothing from striving for it. But with a God-centered perspective, financial wealth is a gift of God to enjoy the way he intends—as a provision for our basic needs and a reward for our work. Seeing your financial wealth as a gift from God, not as a god, determines if you will enjoy it as he desires.
- Seek the Father’s forgiveness if you have made your financial wealth a god.
- Ask him to show you how to enjoy the income he has provided you, according to his desires.