REPOST Today’s AMI QT blog, written by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S.F., was originally posted on September 12, 2014. Mark is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
Ecclesiastes 5:10-20 (ESV)
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.
In an interesting essay on the topic of greed by Julian Edney, a Yale economics professor who is not a Christian, he noted that Americans don’t see greed as an immoral practice and don’t recognize the social problems that arise as a result. He went on to cite some startling facts about life in America. The Department of Agriculture in its survey of the population has found out that nearly 4% of our population or 4.4 million American households sometimes go hungry for lack of money. An estimated 2 million children are homeless at some time during the year. The most alarming trend is the fact that there are whole families who have full and part time jobs who are unable to afford the cost of living in many of our cities and find themselves out on the streets. These people, for the most part, are trying to make a living, but they cannot keep up with the escalating cost of living caused by the unequal distribution of wealth in our society. Edney makes the point that while the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer. Unfortunately, an economy that is based on competition and survival of the fittest will have its winners and its losers. It is designed in the long run to produce inequality.
Although I see the value of capitalism, unless it is tempered by the Christian virtues of generosity and charity, it can produce many social evils. In this passage of Ecclesiastes, we are also reminded of the personal consequence of greed. Our hunger for money and material wealth can never be satiated. John D. Rockefeller, the late 19th century tycoon, was once asked, “How much money is enough?” to which he replied, “Just a little bit more.” Solomon saw this as a grievous evil because all of our wealth can be taken in a moment’s notice. The underlying lesson is to see everything as a gift from God, which we can use and enjoy while we have it. When we see our material blessings as simply a product of our hard work, we will naturally become anxious and worry over our finances, which left unchecked can lead to greed. It is far better to rejoice in the fruit of our labor and to give God the glory for whatever comes from his hand.
And one more thing: be generous today.
Prayer: Father, we confess that it is easy to worry about our finances and even to become selfish with our money. We ask that you would make us better stewards of all that you give us. Help us to see that you have blessed us so that ultimately we can be a blessing to others. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today:Genesis 45
Lunch Break Study
Read Matthew 6:24-34 (ESV): “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Phil. 4:19 (NIV): And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Questions to Consider
- What does Jesus teach as our proper attitude towards money in comparison to our love for God?
- Why can we trust God more than the security that money provides?
- Where can we productively channel our efforts to overcome our anxiety?
- 1Jesus uses some very strong terms in regards to our attitude towards money. In light of our love for God, it should be as if we despise and hate money. The pursuit of riches should never get in the way of our relationship with God, and where there is a choice, God should be the priority without a second thought.
- God can be trusted because just as he feeds the birds and clothes the lilies, he will not leave us destitute. Though we may go through difficult times, we should never think that God doesn’t care. If we know that he cares for every bird and flower, how much more does he care about those who are made in his own image (James 3:9)?
- Instead of simply working harder to make more money in order to cover our worries, Jesus commands us to seek first the kingdom of God. This verse comes with the amazing promise that if we do this, all that we need in life will be provided for (Phil. 4:19).
What are you anxious about? Why are you worried? Spend some time reflecting on all the good things that God has given you. Take a moment to confess your anxieties to the Lord and pray, asking God to reveal his care and compassion for you.