Solomon, one of the wisest kings ever to live, at the end of his life wrote the book of Ecclesiastes. He wrote not only to his children but to his kingdom and us as well. The book itself consists of Solomon’s learned wisdom. Wisdom he seeks to pass down so that we won’t waste our life chasing after that which doesn’t matter. In doing so, he continues to be a vessel of living water to all who read it.
Fathers when you think about deliberately writing to your children. Whether it be in the margins of your Bible or in a short book like Solomon has written. When you think about it, what advice, what wisdom, what direction would you give your children?
That’s a big question, a deep question, one that requires a lot of thought. In order to help get the juices flowing, we’re going to look at some of the wisdom Solomon passes down. Wisdom that’s lost in our current cultural moment. The topics we are going to explore are pleasure, career, and money.
That’s our roadmap, so let’s dive in.
(3) Money can’t provide ultimate purpose, meaning, or fulfillment in life (vs. 5:10-17)
You guys have probably all heard the saying, “Money makes the world go round.”
But what does that mean? A quick google search turned up this definition of the phrase, a definition that reveals how our culture thinks of money.
One person says,
“The expression “money makes the world go round ” means that money is very important, it is the most important or one of the essential things in life, a lot of events could not happen without it, money solves lots of (or all) problems,…”
But is that true? Is money the most essential thing in life? And can it solve all our problems or does it create more problems for us?
Solomon certainly has a different take on money than this writer. Starting in Ecclesiastes 5:10 he writes,
“He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. When goods increase, they increase who eat them,” (Ec 5:10–11a)
You see, while money is important — it allows us to buy and sell, and to provide for our family — it is not everything. It doesn’t solve all problems. In fact, it can create more problems than it can solve. Case in point here with Solomon. He has observed that
Those who have money also have more people knocking on their door seeking help.
But not only do those who have money constantly have people knocking on their door, they also:
Have to spend time, money and energy guarding their money,
which leads Solomon to say in the second half of verse 11 on into verse 12,
“…and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? 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.” (Ec 5:11b-12)
Though they might not be hungry or cold, the rich might find that their sleep evades them, which is sweet and is to be prized over riches.
But that is not all the difficulties that money brings with it. Those who have money, Solomon tells us
May lose their money.
What they have might disappear over night due to a bad venture or a disaster. Which results in the father not having anything to pass down to his children. And ultimately it results in loss, not just of money but of house, health, and friends. Solomon says in verse 17,
“Moreover, all his days he eats in darkness in much vexation and sickness and anger.” (Ec 5:17)
The picture Solomon paints for us, then, is far from the idea that money solves all problems. We see that money can bring with it even greater problems, as well as the loss of it, can bring about loneliness, bitterness, and anger.
All that is not to say that having money is wrong. It’s not. But we have to recognize money’s place in our life. It is a tool that we use to buy and sell, but it’s not something that can provide ultimate meaning, satisfaction, or purpose in life.
So fathers, we must teach our children how to properly think about money. That’s what Solomon is trying to do, so that’s what we should try to do too.
So we see that pleasure, career, and money can’t provide ultimate meaning, satisfaction, and purpose in life, which means we mustn’t chase after them. So what then? What should we chase after? We will discuss that next time.
Question for Reflection
- Are you hoping money will provide you meaning and purpose?
Post adapted from my sermon: Fathers, Direct Your Kids Toward that Which Matters