Wealth and Eternal Purpose.

In Ecclesiastes 6:1-9, Solomon applies wisdom to apparent injustices that can cause roadblocks in our lives. It is common to find people who seem to have everything but are not satisfied. Solomon gives two examples: a single man and a married man. Ultimately, we will see what it means for a believer to embrace the good material possessions God has given us.

How can we have so much and yet not feel fulfilled?

As image-bearers, even those who don’t know Christ are able to accumulate things. God has given those things so they will turn and trust in His Son (Romans 3:21-26, James 1:17). Some unsaved people do feel fulfilled, but prosperity is not always an indication of satisfaction. Believers can encounter the same roadblock of not enjoying what they have. God-given wealth without a God-given ability to use it for spiritual purposes can be quite a malady. Christians know why God gives us good things: to live with eternal purpose and propel the Gospel.

How do we live with purpose? In this passage, Solomon is likely speaking of how he lived his own life. He lost his way, and he calls such a situation prevalent and evil. As he did in Ecclesiastes 5:19 and 3:13, he urges us to enjoy good things as a gift from God.

Two Examples

The single man realized that others enjoyed wealth better than he does (verse 2). When temporary goods are not eternally invested, they all will fade away. Self-consumed isolation leads to depression and discouragement.

The family man illustrates that even if you have a large family and wealth, satisfaction can’t be found there either without knowing and keeping God’s commandments. Utilize wealth together with each other. Believers can live like this when they lose their purpose.

Solomon says it would be better to never be born than to live life with all these things but without purpose (Mark 8:36). Is existence better than non-existence? Solomon answers that question in Ecclesiastes 9:4. The question here is whether there is any purpose behind a seemingly unbalanced scheme for any person's life. Ecclesiastes 6:5 is the inevitable conclusion of one without purpose.

How to Enjoy Life

We can and should enjoy God's good gifts, but understand that all temporary things have a shelf life. Losing this perspective puts us in a place where we have everything and nothing at the same time. To enjoy the gifts without the Giver is idolatry. Enjoyment without God is merely entertainment, and it doesn’t satisfy. Enjoyment with God is enrichment that brings true joy and satisfaction.

Enjoying wealth shouldn’t control the narrative of a believer’s life. Our wealth, regardless of degree, is only a tool to help us know God and do His will.

Ecclesiastes 6:7-9 describes “the madness of undertaking the consumption of those things which may be the fruit of work, but leave us powerless to fill the gaping void of our own human appetite.” God commands us to work. What if we still feel empty after our education or in our career? The Bible tells us to rest content with what lies before us. Don’t wander off in pursuit of more stuff without eternal purpose.

Matthew 6:19-20 is often taken out of context. The focus of Jesus' words is where you are investing more than what you are enjoying. Pair this passage with Luke 16:1-9. We use material means to make friends for eternity. Make friends for Heaven with the temporary stuff we have now. We must connect our use and enjoyment of things with eternal purpose. We help point each other to God as we enjoy things as a family and as a church family.

Paul demonstrates a similar mindset in Philippians 4:10-14. Having everything doesn’t make me, and having nothing doesn’t break me. Contentment means needing nothing from the outside. We carry everything we need to be content inside of us. Pursuing Gospel progress with others gave Paul the strength he needed (1 Timothy 6:6). For too long, we have associated contentment with things and not purpose. Living in that temporary mindset needs to end here for us as a church family. The focus of contentment is not what we have, but what we’re here for. Contentment comes from our attitude about things and purpose combined. Living with purpose compels one to be a good steward of things. Our love and burden for the eternal cause of Jesus Christ makes us govern stuff unto His ends with wisdom.

People without eternal purpose budget and save to buy a beach house and retire early. Those with eternal purpose always want to be Gospel-useful wherever we go. None of us have to live in the roadblock of being distracted by stuff and losing our eternal way.

Application Points

  • Be thankful that God has given good gifts to the unsaved. Pray that it would draw them to Him. Pray that believers would use what they have for God's glory and not be distracted from their eternal purpose.
  • Does enjoying wealth control the narrative of your life? Regardless of its degree, your wealth is only a tool to help you know God and do His will.
  • Enjoy your stuff, always being mindful of eternal purpose.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • 1 Peter 4:19, Proverbs 3:5-6 – how believers should respond to apparent injustice
A Hymn to Encourage: "A Passion For Thee "

Set my heart, O dear Father,
On Thee and Thee only;
Give me a thirst for Thy presence divine.
Lord, keep my focus on loving Thee wholly;
Purge me from earth; Turn my heart after Thine.

A passion for Thee –
O Lord, set a fire in my soul, and a thirst for my God.
Hear Thou my prayer; Lord, Thy power impart
Not just to serve, but to love Thee with all of my heart.

Father, fill with Thy Spirit and fit me for service;
Let love for Christ every motive inspire.
Teach me to follow in selfless submission;
Be Thou my joy and my soul’s one desire.

–Words and music by Joe Zichterman