Ecclesiastes 5:8-18: Wealth for Wealth’s Sake

Read: Ecclesiastes 5:8-18

The Preacher in Ecclesiastes often mentions wealth in his book and the relationship of wealth to life. His general thinking is that wealth for wealth’s sake is meaningless for a number of reasons.

  • The one who pursues wealth for wealth’s sake is never satisfied with what he has.
  • As one’s wealth amasses, so do those who consume it. Wealthy people are often surrounded by people who want a piece of the wealth for themselves. They are only interested in the owner because he or she is wealthy, no more.  The preacher says that such people have no benefit to the owner because all they do is stare at the wealth.
  • Wealth can be lost in misfortune or stolen.
  • People are born into the world naked, and they cannot take wealth with them when they die.

On the other hand, the Preacher thinks that people find much satisfaction in enjoying the fruits of their labor. Wealth for wealth’s sake has little satisfaction in such pursuits but the one who stops to enjoy what he or she has worked hard for finds satisfaction in this sort of work. The Preacher is saying that having money is evil; rather one should take the time to both work hard and then reap the benefits of his or her work. He sees this as a gift from God (Ecclesiastes 3:13, Ecclesiastes 5:18, Ecclesiastes 8:15, Ecclesiastes 9:7-9). The Bible does not condone having money but that it should be used for good (1 Timothy 6:11-21, Proverbs 3:9-10) rather than evil (James 5:1-6), but the pursuit of money for the sake of being wealthy is shunned (Proverbs 23:4-45, Matthew 6:19-20). The Bible teaches too that contentment is good (1 Timothy 6:6-8, Philippians 4:11) and that it is better to be righteous than wealthy (Proverbs 15:16-17, Proverbs 16:8).

Christians would do well to listen to the wisdom of the Preacher and consider the end goal of one’s pursuits. The end goal of every pursuit should be in accordance with the purposes of God. Psalms 67 teaches that God blesses so the blessed can bless others. In doing so, the ends of the earth will fear God. Work therefore should be to the glory of God. Paul encourages that whatever one does, one should do it as unto God rather than man (Colossians 3:23-24). Even so, as the Preacher says, people will only be interested in a person for his or her wealth rather than being genuinely interested in the person. The best thing to do is fear God, then everything else will follow suit. It is only in this that one can find real meaning!

Lord, let me honor you with all I have!