As a kid, I remember my parents taking me on road trips outside of New York City to visit historic mansions-turned tourist attractions. We wanted to get a taste of what it was like to be rich. As an adult, living in Miami, one of my favorite places was the Viscaya mansion in Coconut Grove, pictured above. Every year, they hosted a Renaissance Festival. For a day, one could step back in time and experience what Europe was like during the Renaissance. Viscaya was built between 1914 and 1922 by industrialist James Deering. Though it looks like it was brought brick-by-brick from Northern Italy, it was constructed of reinforced concrete to withstand the sub-tropical climate. It is magnificent. The Renaissance Festival was held in their manicured, formal gardens. Inside and out it is a showcase of wealth.
Here in Ecclesiastes 5, Solomon ponders wealth, but first he considers how to approach God in His temple. In other words — why and how do you go to church? We’ll take each section separately. Let’s dig in…
As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut. It is evil to make mindless offerings to God. 2 Don’t make rash promises, and don’t be hasty in bringing matters before God. After all, God is in heaven, and you are here on earth. So let your words be few.
3 Too much activity gives you restless dreams; too many words make you a fool.
4 When you make a promise to God, don’t delay in following through, for God takes no pleasure in fools. Keep all the promises you make to him. 5 It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it. 6 Don’t let your mouth make you sin. And don’t defend yourself by telling the Temple messenger that the promise you made was a mistake. That would make God angry, and he might wipe out everything you have achieved.
7 Talk is cheap, like daydreams and other useless activities. Fear God instead.
How do you approach God?
First, you need to take into consideration that when Solomon wrote this, towards the end of his life, he was far away from God. Unfortunately, we tend to drift away from God as the world pulls us away. If you go to church just to say you went, you might as well not bother going and stay home and sleep in or go play golf.
Yes, you need to FEAR THE LORD. That’s not being afraid of Him, but living in awe and respect for Him. As a born-again Christian — a true follower of Christ — you have the presence of God in your heart in the form of the Holy Spirit. If you don’t, then you’re missing out.
Know Your Place Before God
What’s your priority when you go to church? Is it to recite words mindlessly? Go through ritualistic rites and movements? Do you vow to God that you will not sin anymore and then as soon as you step outside of the church, you steal, tell a lie, cheat someone or commit adultery? You may think it’s OK, and that you’ll go to confession next Saturday and be alright. Again, sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.
Sadly, the Roman Catholic Church has been lying to and misleading people for centuries. Salvation is not purchased by YOUR good deeds, service, money or prayers. It was purchased by the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the cross, once and for all. Furthermore, He conquered death by rising 3 days later. You have to believe that and come before Jesus with a contrite and repentant heart. It’s amazing! Yes, and when you do, you will be filled with JOY, PEACE and HOPE. It all surpasses our understanding, but that’s how HE works!
The Futility of Wealth
8 Don’t be surprised if you see a poor person being oppressed by the powerful and if justice is being miscarried throughout the land. For every official is under orders from higher up, and matters of justice get lost in red tape and bureaucracy. 9 Even the king milks the land for his own profit!
10 Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! 11 The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers!
12 People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich seldom get a good night’s sleep.
13 There is another serious problem I have seen under the sun. Hoarding riches harms the saver. 14 Money is put into risky investments that turn sour, and everything is lost. In the end, there is nothing left to pass on to one’s children. 15 We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us.
16 And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind. 17 Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry.
18 Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. 19 And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. 20 God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.Ecclesiastes 5 NLT
How much is enough?
That is the problem with the love of money — it never satisfies. In today’s money value, Solomon made about $1 billion a year! He was the richest man alive in that era. He could buy anything and anyone that he wanted. It’s really too bad that in his later years, he wasn’t happy.
I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.Philippians 4:11b-13 NLT
He also wrote to Timothy…
10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.1 Timothy 6:10 NLT
Money can be a Tool for Good!
Just don’t make it your goal. You’ve never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul, right? Like Solomon writes here, you came into the world with nothing and that’s what you take with you when you die.
John Wesley said…
“Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can.”
Enjoy the good things. Don’t dwell on life’s disappointments. We can’t expect more than the world can give. Find satisfaction in your work — gladness of heart.
As Jesus said…
33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.Matthew 6:33 NLT
Take note: it’s what you NEED, not what you WANT!
How do make Jesus the Center of Your Life?
Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.
- Believe — have Faith — that Jesus is the Christ and He died taking your sins away forever and that He rose from the dead 3 days later.
- Repent of your sins — stop sinning! Do a complete 180 in your life and surrender your life to Him.
- Be Baptized — show the world and yourself that you have died to your old life and are born again in Christ.
- Receive the Holy Spirit in your heart.