Sermon Audio & Review
Pastor Tim Potter
- Category: The Book of Ecclesiastes
- September 22, 2019
Wealth, Wisdom, and Eternal Purpose.
Many of us may not feel wealthy when we look at our budgets. The Bible says that we should be content with food, clothing, and shelter (1 Timothy 6:8). By that standard, especially compared to the majority of people in our world, we are an affluent group of people. Solomon gives wisdom for wealthy people to maintain our eternal purpose for living.
Missionary C.T. Studd wrote the poem "Only One Life," which repeats the refrain: "Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last." This perspective reminds us to live for eternal purposes.
There is work to be accomplished in sorrow. Wisdom strives to avoid denial of hardship and knows there is always something to learn. James 1:2-4 likewise reminds us that joy is to be found in trials. The Apostle Paul experienced this in his life. (See Philippians 4:12, 2 Corinthians 1:8, and Acts 16 for a few examples.) Only God's grace can enable us to persevere through conflict with the right attitude.
Pleasure seekers try to drown out the pain in their lives. One author described "the life lived in denial of the true nature of things, hoping to push reality to the margins by flooding the senses with sensation and drowning out quiet contemplation with noise." This can never bring relief. God knows what is good (Ecclesiastes 6:12), and this passage tells us it is not distracting ourselves with foolishness.
1 Peter 4:1-11 details how we are enabled to endure together. Prayer, the love of our Christian family, practicing hospitality, and serving with other believers helps us see and live an attitude of joy even in distress.
Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived aside from the God-Man Jesus Christ. Even Solomon had to learn to listen to others' wisdom. We need to be careful when we are experiencing spiritual success, because we can always have more to learn. The rebuke of a friend or person in authority who loves you is better than seeking relief from affliction without learning and self-development.
Developing spiritual relationships helps us practice this principle more skillfully. It is easier to receive a rebuke from someone who you have studied the Bible with and prayed together with for some time (Proverbs 27:6). The same applies in the home. Parents who are shepherding their children and not being merely authoritarians will not provoke their children to anger when they offer correction (Deuteronomy 6:5-9, Ephesians 6:4). The process of confrontation in Matthew 18:15-18 can be done much more graciously when living in relationship with others. This is just a natural part of helping each other grow in Christ-likeness. When in relationship and done artfully with bibilical communication, rebukes sometimes are not even heard as a rebuke. Without relationship, any failure leads to fear and despair.
People with means can tend to use their resources to maneuver their way out of circumstances earlier than God intends. Sometimes God wants us to stay there and learn. Dead ends can be good. The wise learn to trust God when they realize they are not in control (Proverbs 3:5-6). The easy way out of trouble is not always God's way out.
When you find yourself becoming impatient or angry as you work through God's control, go first to the Lord and His Word. Then find a friend who can remind you to trust the God who is in control when you are not. Do you know someone with the gift of faith who is able to easily remember and believe that God is in control?
Solomon reminds us that "the good ol' days" are inappropriately idealized. In reality, every era tends to have the same conflict with different names and voices. Wealthy people with resources want to alter reality, but this is not a wise desire and not possible in the long run.
- Where do you run when faced with unavoidable conflict and difficulty? Think through 1 Peter 4:7-11 and the remedies it provides. How can you avail yourself of the resources God has provided in your church family?
- Do you know someone with the gift of faith who is able to easily remember and believe that God is in control? When you become anxious, angry, worried, or impatient with conflict that God is allowing in your life, go to the Lord in prayer and His Word, then talk to that person.
- Do you try to use your resources to escape hardship? We may be able to escape temporarily, but it is not possible in the long run. God wants to teach us through difficulty. How will you choose to grow through difficulty?
Tools for Further Study
Cross References to Explore
- James 5:13-16 – What James says to wealthy people.
- 1 Peter 4:19, 5:5-7, 1 Corinthians 10:13, Ephesians 4:26, Matthew 6:23-24, Philippians 4:6-7 – How to persevere when you are anxious, angry, or worried.
A Hymn to Encourage: "My Faith Has Found a Resting Place"
My faith has found a resting place,
not in device nor creed;
I trust the ever-living One,
his wounds for me shall plead.
I need no other argument,
I need no other plea,
it is enough that Jesus died,
and that he died for me.
Enough for me that Jesus saves,
this ends my fear and doubt;
a sinful soul, I come to him,
he’ll never cast me out.
My heart is leaning on the Word,
the written Word of God,
salvation by my Savior’s name,
salvation through his blood.
My great Physician heals the sick,
the lost he came to save;
for me his precious blood he shed,
for me his life he gave.