Friday, February 03, 2017

The Vision (2.3.17): Balance in the Christian Life: The Pursuit of Wisdom and Money

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday morning's sermon on Ecclesiastes 7:11-18.

Ecclesiastes 7:11 Wisdom is good with an inheritance: and by it there is profit to them that seen the sun. 12 For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.

Solomon begins, “Wisdom is good with an inheritance.” Does this mean: It’s good to shape your life according to the Bible, but it’s also good to have a rich uncle who dies and leaves you a huge fortune? Probably not. The interpreters tell us that the meaning here is either: Godly wisdom enriches a man’s spiritual life in the same way that a grand inheritance enriches his financial life; or, more likely: Godly wisdom is better than a grand inheritance. Consider:

Proverbs 3:13 Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. 14 For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. 15 She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.
Earlier in this Ecclesiastes series, I asked you: What are you most concerned about leaving your children? Are you concerned about leaving them your material possessions or your spiritual possessions? There is nothing wrong with leaving them both, by the way. Many, selfishly, have no concern for either. While others only think about one: leaving their material possessions. What beliefs, life patterns, spiritual heritage will you leave for those who come behind you?

Solomon promises: “and by it there is profit to them that see the sun” (v. 11b).

He continues the point in v. 12a. Notice that he describes both wisdom and money as a “defense.” Solomon does not say that the desire to prosper and to be financially secure is illegitimate or evil.  A man should work and plan in order to have the material goods and the financial resources to provide adequately for himself and his loved ones. We are to be good stewards, knowing all is the Lord’s (Psalm 24:1). In 1 Timothy 6:10a Paul tells his young associate not that money itself is the root of all evil, but the love of it [the inordinate and covetous desire for it].

Still, when it comes to a comparison between the two defenses (wisdom and money), there is no contest as to which is the most valuable (see v. 12b). Wisdom “giveth life to them that have it.”

There are many wealthy parents who have seen their beloved children contract diseases and die.  I feel sure they would have been willing to part with anything in their possession just to give that beloved child life.  If I had a dying child, I’d give away my meager bank accounts, my house, my cars, my clothes, my books to give any one of my children their physical lives.

But Solomon says, if we give them the knowledge of God and the godly wisdom that flows from it, we can give them something even more valuable than physical life. We can be the means of their receiving spiritual life by knowing Christ.

Consider the words of Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of John:

To the woman at the well:

John 4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

In teaching about the Good Shepherd:

John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

To grieving Martha:

John 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

In declaring his own identity to Thomas:

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Both wisdom and money [the provisions needed to meet one’s own physical need and the needs of his family] are a defense in this temporal life.  It does not have to be “either-or.” The spiritually balanced man sees this.  But he also knows that one is more important than the other.  He should not hinder or, worse yet, abandon the pursuit of the defense and inheritance of wisdom merely to provide the defense and inheritance of material gain.

How is this reflected in your life? Do you work too much to have time to pray? To have time for the ordinary means of grace? To have time for Christian fellowship and community? To have time for spiritual instruction of your children and witness to your kindred? Is anything out of balance and how might it be corrected?

Remember Jesus’ words:

Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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