Photo by Jodi, Chicago 2012
Part 10 IX. The Sermon: Power, Wealth and Misery– Rev. Kyle McClellan, Senior Minister, Grace Church The Sermon Passage: Ecclesiastes 5:8-20
The Big Idea: Unless the gospel changes our loves and appetites, our endless pursuit of power and wealth will damn us – in this life and the next.
I. Don’t be surprised when it rolls downhill (vv. 8-9).
• Avoid a common error: power and corruption come hand in hand. There is only one who perfectly used his power to serve and was not corrupt.
Solomon gives a good mission statement for a king: be out listening to the people. “But this is gain for a land in every way: a king committed to cultivated fields.” In other words, use your power to unlock opportunity for the hard working and make them succeed more. In context here, protect the poor from bribes as they are the ones that disproportionately pay this unfair tax.
The person who demands the bribe pays some of it to the next layer of leadership up, and so on to the king. The best thing the land can have is a king that does not accept a percent of the bribe network but instead listens to the hard working farmer and helps frees them from that and shutdown the bribe network. But there is only one truly Good king who did and does this.
II.Flee the wealth trifecta (vv.10-12):
1. Constant craving (v. 10). If you love money, getting more of it will never satisfy.
2. Entourage (v. 11).Ie. Paying for a possy. Paying for leaches because they want a piece of your money.
3. CPAP (v. 12).You eat a ton because of your wealth and will not be able to sleep.
I Timothy 6 says there is great gain from godliness with contentment. We don’t see this contentment much even in the church. That is why Burroughs wrote a book on these verses called the RARE Jewel of Christian Contentment.
Both Solomon and the apostle Paul warn us that if we pursue wealth, it will leave us ruined. So why do we keep doing it? Dispute the fact that we know these lies that wealth offers and never fulfills, why do we act as if we do not?
Though warnings are good, it is not enough to just tell people to do something or not do something. The hope of the gospel is that I am given new affections that long for the realities of Christ and are satisfied with him more than I believe the lies about wealth.
Affections cannot be stopped – they must be changed.
III. Learn from the echo of Job (vv. 13-17).
We bring nothing into the world nor take anything out of it. Where is your sense of security this morning? Hard work is great. But at the end of the day, who is really the one feeding your family? It is God. All this can be lost in amoment like Job experienced so rest in God.
IV. Live a good and fitting life of Providential joy (vv. 18-20).
These three verses are in huge contrast to the greviusness and evil of the past verses. God is in these verses. He gifts these things.
What occupies your heart? What occupies your affections? Is it worry? Is it doubt? Is it greed? Is is pride and arrogance? What about lust? Do we understand what is being held out to us? You can have a heart occupied not with the prison of sin which doesn’t satisfy, but we are offered deep joy instead!
That is the gospel, right? Our own sinful natures have left us with a debt for death that we cannot pay. Jesus puts an end to this debt for us by paying it himself. If we have experienced the grace of the king, we don’t just say, “yeah we are not going to hell.” We can eat, drink, and be satisfied starting here in the already / not yet kingdom not because we did it but Christ did!
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.