Fear and Futility

How to Love God Instead of Money

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.” (Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 ESV)

Enjoy his gifts as his gifts

This is slippery because money and possessions are so easily deified in our hearts. All our possessions come with signs around their neck saying, Love me! Live for me! The key is to understand that money and the ability to make money are gifts from God. The ability to enjoy them is also a gift from God. We are not owners; we are stewards of what God has given to us.

I have known people with money and you can tell it’s part of their identity. They talk a lot about their money. They talk about their success. They flash it around. I have also known well-to-do people who have remained as down to earth as an old shoe. Money hasn’t changed them at all. What’s the difference? Do they see what they have as a gift from God or something they have a right to? We don’t have rights to gifts. A gift is a gift.

By the standards of earth and history, everyone in America is rich. You may not think so but when we get to heaven, we will be known as the richest Christians in history. So this is very relevant for all of us.

How can you know if you see God’s gifts as actual gifts? How generous are you with them? How willingly do you share them with others? How do you respond when you take a loss? Is it devastating? Nobody likes losing money but does your life lose its purpose too? Are you jumping off a bridge? If these are gifts, I’m free to enjoy them, share them, give them, or even lose them.

Strive for contentment with what he has given

“…and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God.” (Verse 19) Remember, God is sovereign. Accepting our lot doesn’t mean we can’t strive and save and work hard. But it does mean that we can rest in what we have as being from God too. Many societies see the rich as being blessed by God and everyone else is not blessed. In reality, God’s real blessing has nothing to do with our financial status. God’s real blessing has everything to do with our eternal status.

And on this level, the rich are at a disadvantage because riches make it harder for us to receive eternal riches by faith in Jesus. Jesus himself said, “Only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:23) All their stuff begs them to believe they don’t need God or the gospel. They are self-sufficient and quite comfortable in this world. But the poor have no such hurdles. With no earthly treasure, they are free to seek all their real treasure as being eternal treasure given to them by faith in Jesus.

Seek joy from God internally not externally

“For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.” (Ecclesiastes 5:20 ESV) This is the true gift, to find the source of our joy internally. Our culture preaches that joy comes in external circumstances. The new house or spouse or car or tech device or man-toy. The source of joy is external things and circumstances. But Jesus had few if any of these things yet was the most joyous human to ever live. Paul writes in Philippians, “In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (Philippians 4:12)

How can I do that? I source my joy spiritually and internally. I rejoice that my name is written in the Lamb’s book of life. I rejoice that my sins are forgiven. I rejoice that my real treasure is in heaven where moth and rust cannot destroy and thieves can’t break in and steal (Matthew 6:19). Are you discontented materially? The answer isn’t a bonus or windfall or a rich uncle leaving you anything. Then you would just be a discontented rich person. The answer to the longing of our hearts is never material. It is always ultimately spiritual and discovering in Jesus a satisfaction and joy that the world didn’t give and the world can’t take away.

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

©2016 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.

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