Summary: Sixth in a series of seven in Ecclesiastes, this sermon deals with money, wealth, and riches.
Sermon Dan Neary
Ecclesiastes on Money and Wealth
Sermon #6 of 7 in our series on Ecclesiastes, and we come to money and wealth.
We’ve gotten into this habit of tying pop songs to these messages… so I couldn’t resist… ABBA (shouldn’t we all listen to ABBA on Fathers’ Day?).
Could it possibly be a coincidence that this topic landed on this day? What I am about to say is not, of course, universally true with two-income homes, and Mr. Moms, and single parent homes and such… but in general terms, our society thinks of money and fathers in the same column. We think of fathers as providers; they are generally thought of as the bread winners. It is usually the dad who brings home the bacon.
Money, money, money… it’s a rich man’s world! Working with these
Money… wealth… riches. Working with this idea and this text, I realized again that I live in a rich man’s world. I haven’t always. I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, Northwest Indiana, in steel country.
Our family of four lived in a modest house in the most densely populated, unincorporated square mile in the state… rows and rows of simple houses called South Haven. Most of the families had direct ties to the steel industry. If I had gone to work at Youngstown Sheet and Tube, I would have been fifth generation in that mill since my mom’s dad’s grandfather was the first Morton to work for the mill. I have cousins who remain in the industry, my cousin Tom works at the gigantic Gary Works of U.S. Steel.
We weren’t poor, we always had all that we needed and more… but we were by no means rich.
It was a bit startling when I thought about this question, “If I were looking at me and my family today from the perspective of my childhood… would I think I was rich today?” Well… yes. Nicer clothes, nicer house, relatively extravagant vacations. Two day weekends… to this day my parents still often work 6-day weeks and rarely have Saturday and Sunday together (of course I suppose I spent a good chunk of Saturday writing a sermon and Sunday preaching a sermon… but that really isn’t work!).
Here’s another indication that I’m really rich today. During my childhood and throughout my teenage years, I can only remember the purchase of two new cars. There was the 1973 Pontiac Catalina…
and the 1976 Chevrolet Chevette (yes, my mom drove a Vette… Chevette that is… all tricked out with air, automatic, and a racy pinstripe!).
I thought my grandfather was rich because he would get a brand new car every 2-3 years.
New cars are a sign of being rich.
But do my sons think we’re rich? Of course not. At our house we call it Eastsideitis. From the perspective of my Midwestern childhood in the 70s, we’re loaded. But from the perspective of Mill Creek, Kirkland, Bothell, Bellevue, and Seattle… we’re barely scratching out a respectable living.
Even if we would dare think of ourselves as rich, we are certainly not wealthy. Rich, I suppose, is good… but wealthy is the standard to which we aspire here on the Eastside.
Money. If Donny were to ask me, “Dad, how much money do you have?” I could think in all sorts of terms:
• Bank balances
• Investments for retirement
• Net worth
But the most accurate answer would be $6. The dictionary definition of money has more to do with currency, coin, dollars. Money isn’t what makes for worth, riches or wealth. Money is just the medium of exchange. Money is merely a representation of value or worth. These days it is only a representation. When coins were made of precious metals, or currency was literally backed by silver or gold in our government’s treasury, the money was actually worth something in and of itself… but these days it is only a representation of worth.
In our case, for most of us, these dollars represent our lives; we exchange our labor, our time and effort, for these dollars. There is certainly more to life than money… but in a very real way our money represents our lives, and literally is the medium of exchange of our lives.
It is important stuff that is worthy of a great deal of our consideration… and it turns out that the Bible has a great deal to say about money. Many have asserted that of all of lives issues, money shows up in the Bible more than any other.
Sometimes the Bible may seem harsh or critical in regard to money, wealth and riches… but not always. I like what Margaret Thatcher said: “No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions. He had money as well.”