Continuing my study on Ecclesiastes, I’ve read about the biblical stand on riches. It is just like I was saying before. There is a tension within the spectrum of choices. Just as I learned in Ethics class, there is a line–liberal to conservative and in the middle are right decisions and the outliers are wrong. See riches are not inherently wrong. God gave Job, and David and Solomon riches. He blesses His children, but they certainly aren’t going with you to heaven.
The problem with money is that the more you have, the more tightly you tend to hold it. It starts to become necessary to have riches and you begin to think you don’t need God to take care of you. Trust becomes superfluous, you don’t need God to take care of you, you can take care of yourself. But, like we saw with Job, that isn’t always the case.
Not to rag to much on the rich, because the passage clearly states, “ Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment[h] 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.” Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 ESV. We can enjoy what God has done to bless us. I’m going to Wildwood New Jersey this summer, and God has fully, 100% funded my trip, and then some. I get to enjoy the blessings of God this summer, because he’s provided for me. I did work for the money and I will be able to enjoy it as well. On the other hand, I received this money, but those who gave, gave freely. God provided them money, and they were then able to give freely as well. They didn’t hold on to their own wealth, but used it to help bless me.
This is the life I want to live. I want to trust God with my money and provisions. Whether He chooses to provide a little, or a lot, I want to give Him control of my pocketbook. I want to be able to bless others when it comes to it, and I want others to bless me.
Switching gears a little, Solomon explains hypocrisy.
20 Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.
21 Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. 22 Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.
23 All this I have tested by wisdom. I said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me. 24 That which has been is far off, and deep, very deep; who can find it out?
Ecclesiastes 7:20-24 ESV
We are all imperfect. You may think yourself wise and good all you want, but there are always areas where we fail. We don’t all have the answers 100% of the time. And there is wisdom in knowing that as well. We’re all only human, and we can think ourselves wonderful all we want, but at the end of the day, we do mess up.
And one final twist in the reflections of Solomon.
14 There is a vanity that takes place on earth, that there are righteous people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked, and there are wicked people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity. 15 And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.
16 When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on earth, how neither day nor night do one’s eyes see sleep, 17 then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out. Even though a wise man claims to know, he cannot find it out.
Ecclesiastes 8:14-17 ESV
It’s the age old question: Why do bad things happen to good people? And the answer the bible give seems to be that God has a plan we can’t see. That doesn’t seem to be a terribly satisfying answer. Honestly. The answer to such a fundamental philosophical question is that God wants it that way? To understand this you need a bit of perspective. As Francis Chan writes in Crazy Love, “From start to finish, this movie is obviously about God. He is the main character. How is it possible that we live as though it is about us?” If life were a movie, it would star God. He’s been around for all of time, nature is there to point to Him. The bible is there to point to Him. The church is there to point to Him. Just climb a mountain and look at the view, just read Exodus, just support a fellow Christian, and you’ll soon discover this to be true. This life isn’t about me, and it’s not about you. So the fact that “good” people (though we just established no one is really good) have the same frustrations hurled upon them as “bad” people, is really not relevant. The fact that there are “bad” people in the world thriving upon injustice is also irrelevant. God has a plan for them and he has a plan for us. And here’s the thing, we must trust that He knows what He’s doing. After all, it’s a movie written, directed by and starring, God. I think He has a handle on what needs to happen.