Ecclesiastes 5:13-20

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, April 6, 2020 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

In last week’s passage of Ecclesiastes 5:8-12, the Teacher began discussing money and how it is meaningless in the context of eternity. Check out last week’s blog post for more on that. He continues that discussion in today’s passage of Ecclesiastes 5:13-20.

The Teacher first goes on a little rant about the first “grievous evil” he sees regarding money in verses 13-15. This has two parts: either a person hoarding wealth or a person losing wealth because of a great misfortune. Both of these situations can cause harm to people. If a person hoards wealth, he will become very greedy and never be satisfied. If a person loses great wealth, they will also be dissatisfied and it may cause great difficulty in life for that person or their children.

If the father has wasted his life being completely driven toward accumulating wealth and the son expected to receive all that wealth, when something happens and wealth is lost, both are greatly disappointed. We come into this world with nothing, and we will leave it with nothing; therefore, what’s the point of amassing so much more than we really need?

We don’t earn anything from our work that we can take with us into the next world. This world measures success by a different standard than God does. The Teacher shares this as another “grievous evil” in verses 16-17. In the context of eternity, our labor in this world really doesn’t amount to anything substantial. Yes, our jobs help the economy function and the world go ‘round, but what purpose do they have for all eternity? When our focus is on the things of this earth, it’s like we’re living in darkness and frustration all our days.

But, the Teacher does share with the reader some good news in verses 18-19. We should find satisfaction in the work we do because it is what God has given us. When God does give us an abundance of possessions, we should enjoy them because they are a great gift from God. Work is not all meaningless, but it gives purpose to our days. Money and material things are not all evil and should bring us enjoyment, as long as we’re not being greedy and selfish regarding them.

If our hope is in God, then work and possessions are good things for us to enjoy. We should strive to find meaningful work that both gives meaning to our own lives and brings hope to others. If the tasks of our jobs don’t do this, then our attitudes should do so. Our attitudes should glorify God no matter what the actual work is that we are doing (Colossians 3:23).

The summary of this section of Ecclesiastes comes in verse 20: “They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.” We should not be depressed about the past or worry about what is to come when our joy and trust are in God. When God is our focus, nothing else will be of high importance but to serve Him in whatever way He calls us to.

What are your thoughts on money, employment, and material things? How do your views on these things line up with the Teacher’s perspective? Are you focused on trusting in God for all things, or are you worrying about the things of this world that are meaningless in the scope of eternity?

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