By Franklin L. Kirksey, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort, Alabama, and author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice.
These expositions by Dr. Kirksey are offered to suggest sermon or Bible study ideas for pastors and other church leaders, both from the exposition and from the illustrative material, or simply for personal devotion.
“Money answers everything”, said Solomon, (Ecclesiastes 10:19b). Likely, you have heard, “Money talks!” In The Guinness Book of Money, Leslie Dunkling and Adrian Room share the following: “The poet Richard Armour [1906-1989] has said: ‘That money talks / I’ll not deny, I heard it once: It said ‘Goodbye.’’”
David George Moore, author of The Battle for Hell, explains in his commentary on Ecclesiastes, “Although verse 19 is somewhat enigmatic, it does seem to point to the fact that the fool believes that earthly things are the way to achieve the good life.”
Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe comments Ecclesiastes 10:19b, “This verse declares the personal philosophy of the foolish officers: Eat all you can, enjoy all you can, and get all you can. They are totally indifferent to the responsibilities of their office or the needs of the people. In recent years, various developing nations have seen how easy it is for unscrupulous leaders to steal government funds in order to build their own kingdoms. Unfortunately, it has also happened recently to some religious organizations.
‘For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil’ (1 Tim. 6:10, nkjv). The prophet Amos cried out against the wicked rulers of his day who trampled on the heads of the poor and treated them like the dust of the earth (Amos 2:7, and see 4:1; 5:11-12). The courts might not catch up with all the unscrupulous politicians, but God will eventually judge them, and His judgment will be just.”
Dr. Donald R. Glenn, Chairman and Senior Professor of Old Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas, explains, “The clause money is the answer (ya??neh from ??nâh) for everything means that the rulers think money can meet all their demands.”
Allow me to note at least three things money can’t buy.
I. Money can’t buy happiness.
Someone quipped, “Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy you the kind of misery you prefer.” In a similar way Dr. Lawrence O. Richards, writes, “On wealth ([Ecclesiastes] 10:19). No, money won't buy happiness, but it will buy most other things. You're much better off with it. After all, you may as well enjoy your misery!”
Dr. John Phillips (1927-2010) comments, "We remember the sad conclusion to the book of Ecclesiastes. In a wail of despair over his wasted life, Solomon (traditionally considered the author) recounts his search for happiness. He thought he could find it in thought, so he gave himself to wisdom and accumulated knowledge. He sought understanding from God and became a man whose wisdom was proverbial even in his own day. But that did not make Solomon happy.
He next thought he could find happiness in thrills, so he dedicated himself to pleasure. He tried everything that money could buy, or that mind could conceive. His revelry was unrestrained, yet none of it made him happy.
He thought he could find it in things, so he went in for making money. He became a merchant prince, with agents trading on the markets of the world for new and exotic things. Solomon was so successful that even the pots and pans in the palace kitchen were made of gold. And that did not make him happy either.
At the end of the book he says: 'Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man' (Ecclesiastes 12:12). That was the way he had originally started life, when he was a young man himself, but somehow he had 'gone off the gold standard.’ He had traded the pure metal of spiritual truth for the useless allow of the world. It cost him a kingdom, a throne, and a crown."
Former President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) reportedly said, “Most people are about as happy as they choose to be.” Someone exclaimed, “The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything!”
Quintus Horatius Flaccus (65 BC– 8 BC), the Roman lyric poet simply known as Horace, said, “Those who seek for much are left in want of much. Happy is he to whom God has given, with sparing hand, as much as is enough."
Some sage said, “Enough is a feast.”
Dr. T. M. Moore, former president of Chesapeake Theological Seminary, comments on Ecclesiastes 10:19, “We seek for happiness and hope to find all that we need in things: We've lost our mind if we expect that food and drink alone will bring us happiness or will atone for our iniquities before the Lord on high. We act like wealth's the final word in life, but what a joke.”
In Luke 12:22-31 we read, “[Jesus Christ] said to His disciples, ‘Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? ‘And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.”
In addition, Jesus said, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). Dr. Luke continues, “Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: ‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ ‘So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God’ (Luke 12:16-20).
II. Money can’t buy holiness.
Dr. Luke writes in Acts 8:18-23, “And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’ But Peter said to him, ‘Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.’”
Remember this is another Simon not Simon Peter. It is from this account that we get our word “simony”, which means, “The buying or selling of ecclesiastical pardons, offices, or emoluments.”
You cannot have holiness without the Holy Spirit. Paul the apostle reminds us in Romans 8:9b, “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” When you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, immediately, you receive the Holy Spirit. Paul warns in Ephesians 4:30, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” He exhorts in Ephesians 5:18, “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.” Paul explains in Galatians 5:22-25, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
Peter exhorts in 1 Peter 1:13-21, “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’ And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”
From the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary we read, “(but) money supplieth (answereth their wishes by supplying) all things," that is, they take bribes to support their extravagance; and hence arise the wrongs that are perpetrated (Ec 10:5, 6 Ec 3:16 Isa 1:23 Isa 5:23). MAURER takes ‘all things’ of the wrongs to which princes are instigated by ‘money’; for example, the heavy taxes, which were the occasion of Rehoboam losing ten tribes (1 Ki 12:4, &c.).”
Rev. Matthew Henry (1662-1714) writes, “Money of itself answers nothing; it will neither feed nor clothe; but, as it is the instrument of commerce, it answers all the occasions of this present life. What is to be had may be had for money. But it answers nothing to the soul; it will not procure the pardon of sin, the favour of God, the peace of conscience; the soul, as it is not redeemed, so it is not maintained, with corruptible things as silver and gold. Some refer this to rulers; it is ill with the people when they give up themselves to luxury and riot, feasting and making merry, not only because their business is neglected, but because money must be had to answer all these things, and, in order to that, the people squeezed by heavy taxes.”
Dr. Lawrence O. Richards explains, "Money answereth all things" ([Ecclesiastes 10] v. 19). Money cannot be eaten. It cannot be worn. It cannot be used as shelter. It cannot buy peace of mind, forgiveness for sin, or the needs of the soul. But money is the answer to the things the sinful seek. It provides the food, drink, power, and luxuries that satisfy the senses.” We read in Ezekiel 16:48-50, “‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘neither your sister Sodom nor her daughters have done as you and your daughters have done. Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.’”
III. Money can’t buy healthiness.
Regrettably, there have been those in tent meetings and on television broadcasts who promise health, wealth, and prosperity if you will send them money.
Do not be deceived to think it is possible to send someone money for you to be healed. Paul Broun, a United States Congressman from Georgia, recently commented on the subject evolution and the Big Bang Theory. He said “[they are] lies straight from the pit of hell." We could say when someone promises healing if you send them money it is a lie straight from the pit of hell. God’s healing is not for sale. If you doubt it, remember, when God healed Naaman the Syrian of leprosy (2 Kings 5).
Southern Baptist Missionary, Bertha Smith (1888-1988) shares in her book titled Go Home and Tell, “Naaman humbled himself and went down and dipped seven times and was perfectly cured. After the way he had been treated by Elisha, he could have gone up to the Jordan to the first ford, crossed over, and gone on back to Damascus. However, he was so grateful that he went up the hill, with all his company, to the home of Elisha, and had all the presents unloaded which he had brought down: ten talents of silver, six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment.”
Elisha graciously refused this gesture of gratitude. This story would have a happy ending if it ended there. However, it does not. We read in 2 Kings 5:20-27, “But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, ‘Look, my master has spared Naaman this Syrian, while not receiving from his hands what he brought; but as the Lord lives, I will run after him and take something from him.’ So Gehazi pursued Naaman. When Naaman saw him running after him, he got down from the chariot to meet him, and said, ‘Is all well?’ And he said, ‘All is well. My master has sent me, saying, ‘Indeed, just now two young men of the sons of the prophets have come to me from the mountains of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of garments.’ So Naaman said, ‘Please, take two talents.’ And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and handed them to two of his servants; and they carried them on ahead of him. When he came to the citadel, he took them from their hand, and stored them away in the house; then he let the men go, and they departed. Now he went in and stood before his master. Elisha said to him, ‘Where did you go, Gehazi?’ And he said, ‘Your servant did not go anywhere.’ Then he said to him, ‘Did not my heart go with you when the man turned back from his chariot to meet you? Is it time to receive money and to receive clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male and female servants? Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever.’ And he went out from his presence leprous, as white as snow.”
In Acts 3:1-10 we read, “Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, ‘Look at us.’ So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God. Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.”
God’s healing is not for sale period. It never has been and it never will be. Later, Peter warns about those who exploit people in the name of the Lord in 2 Peter 2:3.
Please note an often overlooked qualification for pastor / teachers found in 1 Timothy 3:3b, “. . . not greedy for money. . .”. Also note we find the same qualification listed for deacons in 1 Timothy 3:8b. If you are secretly rejoicing that you are not a pastor / teacher or a deacon, remember these words are for all believers, “So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; It takes away the life of its owners. . . . He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house, / But he who hates bribes will live” (Proverbs 1:19, 15:27). Greed causes much trouble in the church. Dr. O. S. Hawkins, President and Chief Executive Officer of GuideStone Financial Resources, explains, “The principal hindrance to the advancement of the kingdom of God is greed. It is the chief obstacle to heaven-sent revival. It seems that when the back of greed is broken, the human spirit soars into regions of unselfishness. I believe that it is safe to say there can be no continuous revival without ‘hilarious’ giving. And I fear no contradiction: wherever there is ‘hilarious’ giving there will soon be revival!”
Dr. Jerry Vines reminds us, “Money can buy a bed, but it cannot buy sleep. Money can buy food, but it cannot buy an appetite. Money can buy medicine, but it cannot buy health. Money can buy a house, but it cannot buy a home. Money can buy a diamond, but it cannot buy love. And most important of all, money cannot buy salvation.”
Dr. Ray Pritchard explains, “Money fails in the end. Five minutes after you are dead someone else will have your money. Five minutes after death your checkbook will be useless to you. Think of it. All you live for, the accumulated wealth of a lifetime, everything you dreamed about, every cent you ever saved, every investment, all of it gone forever.”
Although he was fabulously wealthy, Solomon died a dejected, sick, old man. Just because a person amasses a fortune, it does not guarantee health any more than it guarantees happiness. With riches comes great responsibility and greater accountability before God.
Stories abound related to the ill health of one of the richest men of his day. Let me share this one. Someone writes, “John D. Rockefeller walked down a railroad track and came upon some section hands having lunch, probably a bologna sandwich and a thermos of coffee. John D. made the statement he would give his fortune to be able to sit down and enjoy their meager lunch, but he could not. He died with a glass of milk in his hand beside his bed.”
After some investigation, I learned something much different. For example, I read from an article in March 24, 1902 edition of the New York Times, "It was said by a member of the Rockefeller family at Mrs. [Charles A.] Strong's home that Mr. Rockefeller was anything but a physical wreck, and that as a result of his sojourn at [his daughter’s home in] Lakewood [N.J.] he had greatly improved in health."
In spite of all of his wealth John D. Rockefeller, Sr., suffered with health problems and on May 23, 1937, he died in his sleep of sclerotic myocarditis or a hardening of the heart muscle at the age of 97, just two years and a few weeks short of his goal to live to be 100 years of age.
From what I understand, John D. Rockefeller, Sr., genuinely repented of his sin and believed in the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ alone for his salvation. We read in Matthew 19:16-26, “Now behold, one came and said to [Jesus], ‘Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?’ So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.’ He said to Him, ‘Which ones?’ Jesus said, ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The young man said to Him, ‘All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, ‘Who then can be saved?’ But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’”
Queen Elizabeth (1533-1603) said on her death bed, “All my possessions for a moment of time.” Let me assure you no amount of money can cancel your appointment with death or exempt you from the judgment. We read in Hebrews 9:27, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.”
Are you ready for your appointment? Are you ready to face the Lord Jesus Christ in the judgment?
Rev. Richard Baxter (1615-1691) states, "He may love riches that wanteth [lacks] them, as much as he that hath them."
Ecclesiastes provides a study in life – even money – without God. Dr. C. I. (Cyrus Ingerson) Scofield (1843-1921) explains, “‘Vanity,’ in Ecclesiastes, and usually in Scripture, means, not foolish pride, but the emptiness in final result of all life apart from God. It is to be born, to toil, to suffer, to experience some transitory joy, which is as nothing in view of eternity, to leave it all, and to die.”
George Horace Lorimer (1867-1937), former editor-in-chief of The Saturday Evening Post, concludes, “It is good to have money and the things money can buy, but it is good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure you haven't lost the things money can't buy.”
Happiness, holiness, and healthiness are three things money can’t buy.
Leslie Dunkling and Adrian Room, The Guinness Book of Money (London: Guinness World Records Limited, 1990), p. 130
Holman Old Testament Commentary – Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, General Editor, Max Anders, authors David George Moore and Daniel L. Akin, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), p. 118, Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.
Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary: Old Testament: Wisdom and Poetry, (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2004), p. 530.
Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament Edition: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty, eds. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983), Database © 2003 WORDsearch Corp.
Lawrence O. Richards, Bible Reader's Companion © 1991, 2004 by Cook Communications Ministries. Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.
John Phillips, Exploring the Psalms, Volume Two: An Expository Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1988, 2002) pp. 210-211
Frank B. Minirth, M. D. and Paul D. Meier, M. D., Happiness Is A Choice: The Symptoms, Causes and Curse of Depression, Updated Edition, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1978, 1994. 2007), p. 13
Sir William Gurney Benham, Book of Quotations, Proverbs and Household Words, [Cited from Odes, Book 3, 16, 42] (London, New York, Toronto, and Melbourne, Cassell and Company, Limited, 1914), p. 593
T. M. Moore, Ecclesiastes: Ancient Wisdom When All Else Fails (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), © 2001 by T. M. Moore. Database © 2006 WORDsearch Corp.
Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, and David Brown, Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary, Critical, Experimental, and Practical, on the Old and New Testaments, (Edinburgh: Collins & Company, 1875)
Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991), Database WORDsearch Corp.
Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher's Bible Commentary: A concise, thorough interpretation of the entire Bible designed especially for Sunday School teachers, Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.
Bertha Smith, Go Home and Tell (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), p. 210
R. T. Kendall, Tithing: A Call to Serious Giving (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1983), p. 27
Jerry Vines, Exploring the Gospels: Mark (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1989), p. 200
Ray Pritchard, “What Money Can’t Buy”, (Ecclesiastes 10:19) (January 2005), Available from: http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/1-2-2005-what-money-cant-buy/ Accessed: 08/01/12
“John D. Rockefeller’s Health: Story that He Is a Physical Wreck Denied by the Family”, Special to The New York Times. Available from: http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=FA0912FD395412738DDDAD0A94DB405B828CF1D3 / http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FA0912FD395412738DDDAD0A94DB405B828CF1D3 Accessed: 08/03/12
Paul Crowell, “John D. Rockefeller Dies at 97 in His Florida Home; Funeral to be Held Here” The New York Times (May 24, 1937), Available from: http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/05/17/specials/rockefeller-obit.html Accessed: 08/03/12
Edward Latham, Famous Sayings and Their Authors, Second Edition, (London, Swan Sonnenschein & Co., Ltd., 1906), p. 3
Richard Baxter, A Christian Directory: Or, A Sum of Practical Theology, And Cases of Conscience In Five Volumes, Vol. II, Part I Christian Ethics, (Or Private Duties), (London: Richard Edwards, 1825), p. 74
C. I. Scofield, Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition), Ecclesiastes 1:2 Available from: http://www.studylight.org/com/srn/view.cgi?book=001 Accessed: 07/21/12
By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527
Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on Amazon.com and WORDsearchbible.com
firstname.lastname@example.org / (251) 626-6210
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