July 17, 2011
Your Money or Your Life – Part 3
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Ecclesiastes 5: 8-20

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Well, I invite you to take your Bible and turn to Ecclesiastes 5 and Ecclesiastes 6. We’re coming to take a last look at this section of this book in a message I’ve entitled Your Money or Your Life. We’ve been looking at Solomon as he explodes some myths and explores some truths about money. And it seems so fitting given the theme of our VBS this week that we should be here in our own study as a church.
I’m just going to break in at verse 18 of chapter five, and then we’ll make reference to other verses as we go along. “Here’s what I’ve seen,” says Solomon, “it is good and fitting for one to eat and drink and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him, for it is his heritage. As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth and given him part to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor. This is the gift of God. For he will not unduly on the days of his life because God keeps him busy with the joy of his heart.” Or as the New Living Translation puts that last phrase, “God gives him reasons to be joyful.”
Catherine Mansfield, a writer, once said, “I must say I hate money, but it’s the lack of it I hate most.” Catherine Mansfield is not alone in her desire to have more money. After all, the credo of the Western world is the more money you have, the more happiness you’ll know, the more security you’ll obtain, and the more life you’ll enjoy. We’re sold this idea that money is the universal passport to a better life. But here in Ecclesiastes 5 and 6, King Solomon issues a caution. He waves a red flag. He shoots up a flare. He’s a man worth listening to when it comes to money because what he knows about money he learned the hard way, by having it. Solomon would caution us in the belief that money is the universal passport to a better life. He’ll actually argue in chapter five that more times than not it’s simply a chasing of the wind.
And so this man who was rich beyond compare in his day and still would give any billionaire in our culture a run for his money in our day, Solomon explodes myths and explores truths. If you were with us for the last couple of weeks, we worked our way some of the myths and we identified three. Wealth doesn’t bring satisfaction. Solomon teaches us that in chapter five in verses eight through 10, and then he spells that thought again in chapter six in verse seven. Look at verse 10, “He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver, nor he who loves abundance with increase. This also is vanity.” Solomon is here to tell us that satisfaction is the proverbial carrot on a stick. It’s always just going to be out of reach.
According to Solomon, when it comes to this world’s goods, satisfaction is sold separately. He then explodes the second myth in verse 11: when goods increase, they increase who eat them. Wealth not only fails to bring satisfaction, it fails to bring sufficiency. Solomon will make an argument that wealth becomes a magnet for scammers and for spongers. Everybody wants to make friends with the wealthy man and for the most for wrong reasons. In fact, if you go over to chapter six in verses three through six, Solomon sets before us a hypothetical man who fathers hundreds of children, who is wealthy beyond imagination, and who lives for a thousand years and more. But the interesting thing is his wealth breeds covetousness, competition, and conflict within his home to such a degree that when he’s laid to rest no one laments his passing.
In fact, if you look at verse three, “If a man begets 100 children and lives many years so that the days of his years are many but his soul is not satisfied with goodness or indeed he has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better than he.” It’s not that this man didn’t have a burial, that’s Hebraic language. If you go over to Jeremiah 22:18-19, that’s a Hebraic language for no one laments his passing. Basically there are those who belong to the memorial park who lay this man the rest, but virtually nobody else is there. No sons, no daughters are there because there’s been so much infighting in the home over his money that it has torn this family apart. What was a blessing has really become a curse.
There’s the old saying, where there’s a will there’s a crowd, and that’s true here in Ecclesiastes 6:3-6. Wealth doesn’t bring satisfaction. Wealth doesn’t bring sufficiency. Wealth doesn’t bring serenity. That’s where we left off last week, verse 12, “The sleep of a laborer man is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep.” The more money a man has, the more responsibility he gathers, and the more worries come with the increase of responsibilities that have increased his material wealth. Basically it goes like this, wealth produces anxiety, anxiety produces insomnia. And that’s actually true.
But there’s a fourth myth that Solomon wants to dynamite: wealth brings security. “That’s not true,” he says, and this takes us in the verses 13 and following. Solomon wants to remind us and those to whom he’s addressing, he wants to remind us and them that riches are uncertain. That’s a phrase that Paul uses, doesn’t he, in 1 Timothy 6:17? Money can be here today and gone tomorrow. It’s a sad and sickening reality that in life misfortune can quickly strike a man and rob him of his fortune. Here today, gone tomorrow, that’s what’s true about material things.
Life has a way, hasn’t it? If we had time, I’m sure somebody could stand up and tell us a story that proves my point here. Life has a way of pulling the rug out from under our feet. Just when you get the keys to your new house, just when you sit down behind the desk in your new office, just when you’ve retired with a reasonably-sized nest egg, life has a way of throwing us a curve-ball, of pulling the carpet from out under our feet and reminding us that life is precarious and money is perilous and passing and fleeting in its nature. Solomon tells us the story in verse 13 of a man who kept his riches to his own heart, and then his riches, verse 14, perished through misfortune. When he begets his son, there’s nothing in his hand for his son, and he came from his mother’s womb naked and to the grave he goes naked.
Solomon paints a bleak picture of a man who had quite a bit of money. He kind of hoarded it, kept it close to himself. He may have been frugal, he might have been a miser, the text doesn’t tell us. But there comes a point when everything goes south, maybe a bad investment, fraud, war, recession, but he gets to see how unpredictable life is and how uncertain riches are. In fact, if you go over to Proverbs 23:5 you’ll read that riches have a tendency to sprout wings and fly away. Listen to what Proverbs says, “Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings, they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.” This man found that to be true, and you and I need to nail that reality down. Wealth does not bring security.
Let me make a couple of applications. This man’s loss or the depiction of this man’s loss reminds us all of the uncertainty of riches, doesn’t it? Think about this, money cannot be protected. You can’t protect money against a downturn in the economy, a fall in the stock market, war, recession, fraud, robbery. You cannot protect money, and that means that money cannot protect you. It can provide you security. In fact, Jesus alludes to that, doesn’t he? In the Sermon of the Mount, Matthew 6:19-21, He tells us, “Don’t lay up treasures on the earth where moth and rust corrupt and thieves break in and steal.” It was going on back then, it’s going on today. You can’t protect your assets, and your assets can’t be the ground of your sense of security.
Money sprouts wings and flies away. You may count your money, but you cannot count on your money. J. C. Ryle’s one of my favorite writers. He belongs to a former generation, bishop of Liverpool in England. If you read something of his life story, his family lost their inheritance. His dad’s business went belly up, and the family declared bankruptcy in 1841, and that was something that marked the thinking of J. C Ryle. In fact, if you read anything of his life, biographers will tell you that 32 years on from that incident, it still hurts him to talk about it, it still wounds him to think about it.
Now having gone through that, listen to these words by J. C. Ryle, “Money is in truth one of the most unsatisfying of possessions. It takes away some cares, no doubt; but it brings with it quite as many cares as it takes away. There is the trouble of getting it. There is the anxiety of keeping it. There are the temptations in using it. There is the guilt in abusing it. There is the sorrow in losing it.” How uncertain riches are. This man’s loss reminds us of how uncertain riches are, and secondly, this man’s loss reminds us that we cannot take our stuff with us. This man in life found out what is truly true in death; that you come into this world with nothing and you leave this world with nothing.
Sometimes fraud, recession, war will rob you of your possessions, will leave you exposed and desolate. But what’s true in life is absolutely true in death. There’s a picture here, a sad picture if you go to verse 17, of this man who sits and eats in darkness with much sorrow, sickness, and anger. Many commentators believe, you see, he lost everything. Basically now he’s got no money for oil for his lamps. He sitting in the darkness eating what few morsels of bread he might have. They would say that that’s a picture and a precursor to death itself. He’s sitting in the darkness, as we all do. We all abide under the shadow of the death. We need to be mindful of this, that if life doesn’t take stuff from us, death will without pity, without negotiation. And therefore we need to live for that which counts.
We must live for those things that money cannot buy and death cannot steal. We’ve got to live for something that provides an advantage that transcends death, and my friend, that’s the very Son of God Himself who said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Though a man die, yet shall he live.” That’s why Jesus said in that passage I just quoted from, “Don’t lay up treasure on the earth, lay up treasure in heaven. Live for eternal things.” Put your eggs in the basket of the gospel. Live for kingdom priorities because death is coming, and it’s going to switch all the price tags of life.
I’m sure like me, at least I speak to the guys, you’ve been following the British Open. My boy Rory didn’t do as well as we hoped, but we’re rooting for Darren Clarke here to clinch it maybe later today. But one of the players that was in the Open was an English guy by the name of Simon Dyson. For a number of years he had some wins on the European Tour, had a very profitable couple of years. When he was asked by a sports command theater if he feared anything or was afraid of anything, he said, “Yes, death. I’m in a position now where I can pretty much do as I want. Dying wouldn’t be good right now.” It never is, but you better think about it because it’s coming.
The hearse is going to park outside all of our homes. I like the undertaker who finished his letter to everybody he wrote to, “Eventually yours.” That’s the way it is. When you understand that, then you understand how temporary life is and how fleeting the things of this world are. There’s no security, no satisfaction, no serenity, no sufficiency in money. Solomon explodes all those myths, and then he explores some truths. Despite all that the preacher has said by way of warning about money, Solomon proceeds to balance out his comments by noting that material wealth is also something to be enjoyed, as long as one understands it as a gift from God, doesn’t see it as an idol, doesn’t worship it, doesn’t let it have the authority and the power in one’s life that God ought to have.
And so, Solomon balances this whole thing out. He tells us here in verse 18, “It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink and to enjoy the good of all his labor.” He’s been pretty pessimistic, hasn’t he, so far about material things, this temporary life? But as in other places in this book prior to this moment, Solomon is coming up for air. He’s giving us a respite from thinking about the brutality and the brevity and the banality of life and how life is fleeting and everything that’s part of it can be frustrating and vacuous. But he says, “Look, here’s a good thing to do. Here’s a fitting thing to do.” That’s the word there, fitting, that you’ll find in chapter three and verse 11, when we read, “God makes all things beautiful in His time.” Here’s a beautiful thing to do: enjoy what God has given you as a gift from God.
“There’s nothing wrong,” says Solomon, “with enjoying good things and good times within God’s providence.” And so as he turns the tables a little here and he heads off in a different direction in terms of his thinking, he advocates a number of things with regards to money that are much more positive, certainly much more helpful. I’ve got three things I’m going to work through very quickly here. Solomon, first of all, in verses 18 through 20 of chapter five encourages a greater appreciation. If you’re taking notes, Solomon encourages a greater appreciation. “Here’s what I’ve seen: it is good and fitting for one to eat and drink and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives, for it is his heritage.” Look at verse 20, “For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life. That’s the man who God keeps busy with the joys of his heart.” That’s the man who finds a reason to be joyful, and God gives him many reasons to be joyful.
So what we’ve got in this section really is the heart of this passage. This is the midpoint of the chiasm in the structure of the passage. This is the point being made. But you know what? While money disappoints, it must never take the place of God. It must never become an idol in our lives. Yet, money and material things, the good things of this world, are often an expression of God’s goodness to us, and as such, we should embrace them and enjoy them without guilt. While Solomon is not blind to the brutality, brevity, banality of life, in these verses, he refuses to despair, and he tells us not to despair either. He acknowledges there are many things about life that’s saddening and maddening, but you and I can enjoy God’s dependable daily gifts, and we should.
I like the way the New Living Translation puts those verses. Listen, “Even so, I’ve noticed one thing at least that is good.” It is set against the backdrop of all the frustrating stuff he’s been talking about, but the sun’s shining through the clouds right now. “Even so, I’ve noticed one thing that is good: it’s good for people to eat well, drink a good glass of wine, and enjoy their work, whatever they do under the sun for however long God lets them live. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life is indeed a gift from God. People who do this rarely look with sorrow on their past, for God has given them reasons for joy.”
That’s Solomon’s point. Up until this point in the text he’s presented those anxious and sad faces, blighted by money miseries. And that raises the question then, is there no joy to be found in material things? Solomon says, “Yes, there is, when that joy is sourced in God, who is the source of those good things, those life-enhancing experiences.” Solomon’s going where Paul goes in 1 Timothy 6:17, “God gives us all things to enjoy.” In James 1:17, “Every good and every perfect gift comes from above.”
Now, let’s just pause for a moment and think this through. Solomon encourages a greater appreciation. Okay, I want you to appreciate what’s bad about money. I want you to think through the myths. But I also want you to think through and appreciate that if you enjoy good from the hand of God, then embrace it. Don’t feel guilty. Embrace it as an expression of His love and good providence, which would say two things to us, I think. Number one, we must enjoy the good with the bad. We must enjoy the good with the bad. I like the way verse 20 puts it, “No man will dwell unduly on the days of his life because God will keep him busy with reasons to be joyful.”
There’s many things that could occupy us, that would make us feel miserable today. The injustices of life, premature deaths in families, all sorts of things, where we see the brutality, the brevity, the banality of life, the chasing of the wind. But Solomon says, “Hey, if you’re going to focus there, also focus here. Make sure you spend some time seeing God’s goodness at work in this bombed-out planet of ours where you have the crater marks of Adam’s sin and disobedience and rebellion and the curse and the judgment that followed it.” Solomon is saying, “Of course there are painful and perplexing things to think about, but don’t think about those at the expense of the things that are under your nose, the things that are at your hand.”
There are many respites of joy, and you and I need to take them. Listen to Daniel Estes, “The tension that humans face in this life, that is so short to be sure, is that it is a divine gift to be enjoyed. At the same time it is therefore both good and appropriate to accept that joyfully even with its limitations.” Solomon’s very realistic about life. He bursts a whole lot of our bubbles. But at the same time he says this, “When you find joy and you recognize God’s hand and you see His provision and His providence, take full advantage of that happiness when it presents itself to you.” Solomon’s not advocating what we may call godless [inaudible 00:22:27]i, which is eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you die, the rich fool, right? Look 12 verse 19.
No, this is a godly happiness. This is a joy and a happiness that recognizes God’s hand at work, and it puts the pause button on when it comes to the complexities and perplexities of life and it enjoys the love of one’s spouse, the admiration of one’s child, a good dinner, a walk in the beach, a time to rest and sleep under the shade of a tree on a beautiful summer’s day.
You know what? The problems can wait, the perplexities can go unanswered. They must. We must take those moments where we can enjoy God’s good hand. That’s the point. So take the good with the bad and enjoy the good amidst the stuff of life. I think I’ve told you this story before, but it’s so applicable to this part of the sermon this morning of the man who was dying. He’d been brought home to die, and he was lying on the couch. The family was ticking down the hours to his expected demise. His wife was busy in the kitchen cooking some chocolate chip cookies for the funeral that was soon to follow in their mind. The old guy’s lying on the couch and the smell of those hot, warm chocolate chip cookies comes wafting down the hall and into the living room. He does all that he can to get out of that makeshift bed. He crawls on his fours down to the kitchen. He reaches out to the table to take one of those cookies when his wife takes a spatula and slaps him right across the hand and says, “Don’t you touch those cookies, they’re for your funeral.”
You think it’s a silly [inaudible 00:24:21], but that’s exactly Solomon’s point. Okay, the guy may be dead in six hours or six days, but let him enjoy his cooking because that’s God’s good hand. Of course, death and funerals and pain, questions and perplexities are part of life, but that doesn’t mean you postpone joy. That doesn’t mean you don’t embrace those oasises of happiness that God allows each and every one of us to enjoy. “So please,” says Solomon, “whether you’re rich or poorer, wherever you’re at in life, as you see God’s hand that work in your life, have a greater appreciation,” which means that you will enjoy the good with the bad. And secondly, it means that you will move from enjoying the gift to enjoying the giver.
This is a theocentric section of this passage. Six times within the compass of a few verses Solomon mentions God’s name, and he says, “Look, if God gives you good things and good health to enjoy them, enjoy them. Don’t look over your shoulder. Don’t let some Pharisee rob you of your liberty and enjoyment of life. But at the same time, you make sure that you acknowledge whose hand this comes from and whose heart it comes from.” He says, “Look, don’t make a idol of these things, because when you do that, you come to ruin and you really don’t enjoy them because money in and of itself has no power to bring enjoyment. Money’s not a silver bullet or the things that it buys when it comes to delivering life in all its color. That’s God to give, just as with money.” So pursuing wealth as an end in itself will bring people to ruin, and Solomon reminds them here of that fact.
You and I need to be mindful of that. As we enjoy moments of great blessing, moments of great joy, make sure in the midst of that, whether we’re eating or drinking, that we’re tasting and seeing that the Lord is good. Just as with toys and batteries, when it comes to material things, satisfaction is sold separately. I’ve never understood that, you know? You fork out $100 for some toy or some techno gizmo, and batteries sold separately, just $5 batteries sold separately. When it comes to the toys and the things of this world, the Bible says satisfaction is sold separately. You’re going to enjoy them, you must enjoy the one who sent them.
I was telling this story in the first service, when the girls were small, like all girls [inaudible 00:27:22], they love shopping. I got dragged along, but they loved it. Their favorite shops were Old Navy and Aeropostale. We’d go there for some new outfit for the summer or some new outfit for the starting of the school year. By golly, they loved it, and they were all excited. They were on around that store like crazy. Eventually they settle in some little shirt and pair of pants or whatever. They were coming out after we had bought them, and they’d just walk about the store holding a little bag, big smile, happiness written all over their face, and they’d open it up every so and look in and close it and open it and look in and close it. They’re so taken by the gifts. But you know what I loved? To their credit, in fact, this is the way it should be, at some point while we were either in the mall or when we got home, they’d come and they’d say, “Dad,” or say, “mom, thanks for the gifts.” I’d say, “Hey, kiss my hand.” No, I didn’t do that. I did think it once in a while, but then the Lord said, “Who do you think you are?”
But that’s the point. Some point the girls in the room trying on their outfit, caught up in the joy of that, the excitement to it, they go, “Hold on a minute. This is something that’s part of something bigger,” and they ran down and enjoyed the joy that we found in their joy and realize, “Hey, we’ll do it again and again. It’s my pleasure to provide. I love you girls, and I want to make sure you have what’s yours to enjoy. It’s life.” But some of you are just looking in the bag right now of what God’s given you and it’s good and it’s a blessing, but it’s time to close the bag and go and give thanks to the giver. That’s where the true joy is, and that sets us up for God’s continued faithfulness in our lives.
Two points quickly, Solomon encourages a greater accommodation. We’re going to skip down to verse nine, and then we’re going to skip down to verses 10 through 12. But this is the second thought here as he looks at some truths regarding money and material things, not only do we need to have a greater appreciation, verse nine, there needs to be a greater accommodation. Look at verse nine, “Better is the sight of the eyes than the wondering of desire. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.” Solomon not only advocates that we need to appreciate God’s provision, but we need to accept that provision with a contented spirit. Solomon’s wrapping up a section here where he has described and depicted the unenjoyed wealth that comes when our pursuit of worldly things is divorced from God.
What he does is he recommends to those that are listening to be content with what you have. He’s stealing the thunder of the Hebrew writer, to some degree, who will later say in Hebrews 13:5, “You know what? Be content with such things as you have for He has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.'” And they need to hear this because there is this wondering of the desire, according to verse nine, this roving appetite. Because in verses seven and eight and nine, Solomon’s talking about man’s lack of satisfaction. He’s always looking for something more. His desires are like the prodigal son, they don’t stay close to home. They’re always out there looking for something bigger, something better. Solomon says, “Look, the wise man may know more than the fool, and the poor man may know his way about life, but both are bedevilled by drinking the saltwater of discontentment.”
And so he says, “Hey, better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of desire.” That’s a proverb, “Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of desire.” Solomon is saying this, “Seek to enjoy what is under your nose, what you can see.” It’s very close to our own little proverb, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Why go looking for two birds you may not capture and lose the one you already possess? That’s the thought here, it’s better to enjoy what you have rather than the desire what you don’t have. Solomon says, “Look, daydreaming is a chasing after the wind.” Fantasizing of things you don’t have, places you haven’t been, things that you haven’t done, that’s a chasing of the wind because it’s wishful thinking that doesn’t change a thing. Solomon’s point is this: what you see is what you have, deal with it because this is God’s provision and God’s providence for this time in your life. That’s the point here. It’s a very practical point.
We need to show greater appreciation when it comes to our material things, and we need to show greater accommodation. Maybe you have less than we want. In fact, that will always seem to be the case to us, that’s the danger. But whatever your eyes see, deal with. Don’t grasp that which is out of your reach. Martin Luther dealing with this passage refers to one of Aesop’s fables about a dog that kept snatching at the meat in the mirror while losing the meat in his own mouth. It was the meat in his own mouth he saw in the mirror, but the reflection made it look bigger and better, and so he lost what he had going after what he couldn’t attain.
Solomon says, “Boy, we all make that kind of mistake. Better,” he says, “sight of the eyes than the wondering of the desire.” Here’s the last thought: Solomon not only encourages greater appreciation and accommodation, he encourages a greater abdication. Verses 10 through 12, let me read them, “Whatever one is he has been named already, for it is known that he is a man and he cannot contend with him who is mightier than he. Since there are many things that increase vanity, how is man the better? For who knows what is good for a man in this life? All the days of his vain life which he passes like a shadow. Who can tell a man what will happen after him under the sun?”
Let me try and get you into the stream of Solomon’s thinking. Given man’s natural bent to discontent, okay, his desires are like a trump, they never stay home. They’re always looking for something bigger, something better. Since man’s bent is towards discontentment, that will lead to the danger of questioning God’s goodness. If we want more and if God doesn’t give us more, then we question God, don’t we? We get into an argument about how God runs His business. Apart from grace, man has a tendency to think too highly of himself. It is grace and the cross and the example of Jesus Christ that humbles us, and we need to pray and sing in the words of the old hymn, “Jesus, keep me near the cross.” Because once we get out from under its shadow, we have an awful tendency to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. Romans 12:3.
Solomon is a keen observer of life and people, and he anticipates this. He anticipates this very thing, this very temptation. He says to Israel, “Don’t get too big for your boots. If God should increase your wealth, if God should bless you with material things, then enjoy those things as from the hand of God. If they’re not what you want, then you need to be content with such things as you have. But whatever you do, your arms are too short to box with God.” Remember your creaturely limitations, arguing with God is futile and it behooves His creatures to accept submissively what He sends. And so in this passage, he refers back to, it seems, in verse 10 Adam naming the animals, which is Adam showing authority over the animal kingdom.
God had given him that authority. But standing behind Adam was God who had named Adam, showing God’s authority over Adam and every living creature. Adam was from the dust. That’s what man is, he’s a creature of the dust. He’s a prisoner to time, and because of his sin, he’s a rebel within God’s kingdom. So who is he to take issue with God’s allotment in life? Who is he to take issue with God’s assignment and providence. Man is puny, and he needs to remember that. And he’s ignorant. Solomon will go on to talk about, hey, he doesn’t know what’s good for him.
These are difficult verses in the Hebrew. I think the New Living Translation catches them, and we’ll wrap this up. Listen to the words of Ecclesiastes 6:10, “Everything has already being decided. It was known long ago what each person would be. So there’s no use arguing with God about your destiny. The more words you speak, the less they mean, so why overdo it? In the few days of our empty lives, who knows how our days can best be spent, and who can tell what will happen in the future after we’re gone?
Here’s the closing thought, this is a great lesson for life, isn’t it, remember what side your bread is buttered on. God is the giver of all good things. Remember who butters your bread, who makes the butter, who gives the butter, so to speak? Remember your utter dependence upon God and act accordingly. Grumbling is out. Gratitude, submission, humility is in. We need greater appreciation, greater accommodation, and greater abdication when it comes to our wealth and to our lot in life. God is the landlord, you are the tenant. And before you go rapping on His door with a complaint, remember you’re living free of charge and He has shown you kindness after kindness. So be careful about talking about the leak in your plumbing and the draft in your window.
Here’s a closing illustration that makes the point, told by Edmund Rogers. He tells of his friend, John Maxwell, who’s a well-known writer in leadership today but was a pastor of her time. John Maxwell met a congressman who told him this story about taking his son to McDonald’s. The kid wanted french fries, so he bought him some french fries. He didn’t just buy him french fries, he bought him supersized french fries. They sat down and the father thought, “This is a great time, father, son, bit of fellowship, bit of friendship.” He’s just sitting watching the kid enjoy his french fries. The smell of them just was too much and he reached out to take a french fry. The kid looked at his dad and said, “Hey, they’re mine.” We’ve all been there. It’s shocking, isn’t it? What? Mine? No, I bought them. I provided them.
That’s exactly where this father was, and he says in a moment, but God spoke to him about how often he has treated God like his son has treated him. I’ll let him speak in his own words. “I thought three things about my son. Number one, he evidently forgot where the fries came from. I’m the one who bought them. Number two, he doesn’t understand that I have the power to take them away from him, or if I want, I could go and buy 20 more large orders and bury him in French fries. Number three, my son didn’t realize that if I wanted more fries for myself I’ve got the money to go up and buy them and sit at another table and enjoy them without him. My son has an attitude. But then God spoke to me, ‘That’s exactly the attitude you have sometimes. You need to remember where your blessings come from. I’m the one who gave you these things, and you need to understand that I have the power to take them away from you or give you more, and you need to understand that I don’t need what you have, I have my own.'”
That puts us in our place. God is the source of all good things. Enjoy them, be a good steward of them, be content with what they are at this time in your life. And should God want to take them from you or have you give them to someone else, you submit. He’s the landlord, you’re the tenant. He’s the Father, you’re the son, you’re the daughter. Amen.
Let’s pray. Lord, we believe Your word is up to date as this morning’s headlines on the Los Angeles Times. We thank You, it speaks into our life. Lord, we have been bruised by it and healed by it this morning. O Lord, we find great comfort in the knowledge that, Lord, You are sovereign and providential and, Lord, You know all about our affairs and You attend to our needs. Our Father knows the things we have need of. Lord sometimes forgive us. We must take greeds for needs, and we get into these silly arguments with You, which is belittling to You and prideful in our part. Lord, some of us are discontent this morning with Your provision and Your providence. Help us to repent of that discontentment. Lord, some of us are in a world of daydreaming when we’ve got so much already to enjoy. There may be small things, but they’re big in terms of the happinesses they can give. We enjoy family, we enjoy friends, we enjoy fellowship, and the benefits of faith in Jesus Christ. Lord, help us, indeed above all, to make much of the one who became poor that we might become rich through forgiveness of our sins, through justification. Lord, we thank You for our Lord Jesus Christ and all that He is to us and all that we are in Him. We would rather have Jesus than silver or gold. For these things we pray in His name. Amen.