Both Sides of the Coin

Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.  This too is meaningless.

The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of the rich man permits him no sleep.  Ecclesiastes 5:10, 12.

From verse 8 on to the end of the chapter Solomon troubleshoots the issues surrounding poverty and wealth, exploring the outcomes within each.  His efforts are not to dis wealth, rather he simply points out the dichotomy of having it.

A person with their basic needs already met can sleep peacefully since he or she have very little to worry them or keep them up at night.  I’ve noticed those with power (a form of wealth) do almost anything to keep it.  Politicians make promises as part of the campaign they certainly know they won’t be able to keep, especially in a democracy where compromise and negotiation takes center stage.  This means they knowingly speak a lie when they claim to be able to change laws or rules of governing.  If they told the people they planned to fight for an ideal and win as much ground as possible for it, then that would be the truth.  If these people compromise while gaining key issues, they are using their resources of negotiation to win.

A person in lust with money (I’m not calling it “love” that would demean love) never has enough of it.  When these types of people get a bundle of it, they want more, though it does them no good except to know they have it.  I once heard a Wall St. investor say that making money was a way of keeping score; the interviewer sarcastically returned, “Sure, but what you can do with it isn’t lost on you either.”  There are no altruistic motives for lust.  Though the word “lust” has become synonymous with sex, it originally pointed to having a very strong desire to obtain something.

Like I said before, the laborer can be just as lustful as the wealthy person.  It comes down to the attitude with which they live.  If they believe the only way to be happy is with more, then they will strive till the kill themselves to obtain more.  The only cure for this mental condition is a change of heart, which as far as I know comes only through a crisis of some sort which shakes the current paradigm we work from to its foundations.  The only true solution to lust comes through Jesus.

Paul’s assertion that those eager to get rich fall into a trap and a snare should give everyone pause.  The rich are already supplied, it’s those who don’t have it that are eager to get it.  So claiming the wealthy are the only greedy bad guys out there ignores the problem on our end.  Jesus warned His disciples not to worry about anything and later Paul claimed he had learned the secret of being content with plenty or lack, whether well fed or hungry.  He also took it a step further and exhorted his readers do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition present your requests to God; and the God of peace will be with your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

I consider the greatest wealth available to us to be peace of mind which leads us to be content with what we have at hand.  This kind of peace doesn’t exclude striving for better circumstances or working hard, instead it fuels our determination to be diligent.  At the same time we don’t do so out of anxiety or worry but because we care.

Here’s some facts/truth for us to remember:  We don’t bring anything into the world so taking anything with us is probably not on the negotiating table.  We might be born and end up with a life, but at the moment one out of one dies, so no one really has any advantage over another.  All the goods we seem to think we “own” were here long before any of us ever came on the scene.  The fruits, grains, nuts, animals, etc. were created before us as provision and our first father and mother rejected the One who created it.  Ever since the human race has been trying to reclaim or simply lay claim to what we did not create or work for to the point that we think being a god means we get to hoard everything we gain for ourselves without sharing it.

Ironic isn’t it that those who reject God for being a tyrant strive to be just like the image they have of him.  I doubt very many people will admit it but our take on God is colored by our own motives.  We are the ones who starve our enemies to hoard the wealth; we are the ones who rule with cruelty and selfish intent.  We continue to blame God for all the problems on earth but refuse to solve our own natures which cause nearly every single one of them.  It’s almost funny (if it weren’t so tragic) how we throw blame around like rocks shattering lives and breaking up even good things just to keep the spotlight off ourselves.  Unfortunately, the spotlight will become a reality for everyone—even those who were really good at hiding the truth.

The kings from our distant past who thought they could take their wealth into the afterlife are now on display, along with the wealth they stored, in a local museum or two.  Thieves looted almost every grave the Pharaohs built and ancient tombs around the world.  The penny should drop the moment I said that last sentence but I doubt it does for most.  These powerful characters hurt their own people to build magnificent tombs to transition them into whatever afterlife they considered to be waiting, but ended up being bones and leather.  All that stuff became priceless history for us but none of it transitioned into the afterlife with them.  Their hearse carried more wealth than most people will ever see in their lifetime and it sat in their graves rotting until treasure hunters looted it or archeologists found it.

This too is a grievous evil:  As a man comes, so he departs, and what does he gain, since he toils for the wind?  All his days he eats in darkness with great frustration, affliction and anger.  Ecclesiastes 5:16, 17.

Though I would wager most self-help gurus and NT Christians find these two verses to be wrong, I’d say they aren’t looking at the world through the right kind of lens.  Just because Jesus bought us hope through His death and resurrection doesn’t mean our lives have positive outcomes.  My dad suffered with a congenital nerve disorder all his life and it finally resulted in several heart attacks, four or five surgeries and health problems for the rest of his adult life.  Mom was one of the most godly people I’ve ever known yet she ended up not knowing herself or anyone else due to dementia brought on by Alzheimer’s.  The world will play the “cup half empty/half full” game with us but it feeds on darkness, frustration and anger just the same.  No amount of positive reasoning can make us accept the disasters which kill millions of people.  No amount of positive thinking can prevent genetic disorders or illnesses from hurting good people.  A woman I know whose life was an example to so many ended up with extensive cancer in both her breasts and a couple of other places.  She survived.  She didn’t “deserve” her illness or cure any more than you or I.

My point is a lot of our energy is spent on trying to solve the darkness surrounding and slowly encroaching on us.  Do what we might, we cannot deny the frustrations or anger life on earth inspires for it would be foolish to do so.

Life without hope is dark.

I am a follower of Jesus because, whatever He was—whether God’s Son or just a very sincerely good man, He spoke of living a life full of light.  His ideals have changed history.  Every freedom, privilege and right we enjoy in America today came because someone believed in the ideals Jesus preached.  The Golden Rule lived out in society produced change for millions.  Ecclesiastes might sound like a very negative book, but I disagree:  life without Jesus is hopeless.

A people without a vision perish.  Jesus gives us a vision of what life could be if we continue to live in the light.


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6 Responses to “Both Sides of the Coin”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    I watched an interview with George Lucas on Oprah’s new channel. In it he says, when you love what you do, you go to work at 7 am and when you realize that you’re hungry you look up at the clock and find that it’s 7 pm. I don’t think any amount of money can really buy that kind of contentment.

    I’ve been in two distinct places, the place where the money I was making was plentiful and stress was high and in order to keep it all going, sleep was a privilege. I’ve also been broke, trying to figure out how I’m going to get to the end of the month.

    Now, I’ve found a calling and in plenty and in lack there seems to be a feeling of peace. It will be what it is and I will continue to move happily forward. In the end, if I die with a ton of toys, my kids will enjoy them, if I don’t then they’ll have to buy their own. It’s all good.

    • jonnysoundsketch2 Says:

      I get that. It really is where I am with my own calling…with days or hours of stress about my perceptions or listening skills. 🙂

  2. Ula Says:

    I read somewhere that money doesn’t change a person. It only reveals his true character. I found that to be true in many cases. I’ve seen people go from little to much and it is not long before one can see what lived in their hearts all along: either generosity or greed.

    Personally I found that contentment which is not affected by material things or the lack thereof, is true wealth. As Jesus said: A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. There are so much more to life than things and status and the type of car we’re driving and the label on the clothes we’re wearing. In Jesus I have learnt (and I am still learning) the secret of being content -whether I have much or little (and I’ve been in both places). I am truly grateful for the gift of contentment.

    Thanks for the article, Jonny 🙂

  3. inspired Says:


    […]Both Sides of the Coin « Jonny’s Habit[…]…

  4. inspired minds Says:

    inspired minds…

    […]Both Sides of the Coin « Jonny’s Habit[…]…

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