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Digging Deeper: "The Illusion of Money"

By Brandon Lemons

This past Sunday, we talked about three “illusions of money” from Ecclesiastes 5.

  • The illusion of satisfaction: “If I have enough money, I will be satisfied in life.” (Ecc. 5:10-12)

  • The illusion of security: “If I have enough money, I can be confident about my future.” (Ecc. 5:13-14)

  • The illusion of success: “If I have enough money, then I am successful.” (Ecc. 5:15-17)

Money, in and of itself, is morally neutral. The problem comes when we love money – when we cherish it, dream about it, and lust after it. Ecclesiastes 5:10 says: “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is vanity.”

When we love money, it becomes an idol that competes with God for our allegiance. We end up looking to money for things that only God provides, including satisfaction, security, and success. This is why Jesus said: “You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24).

One of the questions I pondered while preparing this sermon was: “Why is it so common to look to wealth as a measure of a person’s success?” I decided that a big part of it is because money is measurable. It’s tangible. Most things in life that are truly important are difficult to quantify and measure: things like love, character, joy, and glorifying God. How can we measure these? It’s hard. In addition, qualities like these don’t quickly impress people around us. So for our sense of success, we naturally turn to what is measurable: money, possessions, grades, titles, accomplishments.

In application, we talked about the importance of contentment, which is being satisfied with what we already have. As 1 Timothy 6:6 says: “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” To grow in contentment, there are two applications.

First, in our relationship with money and possessions, we need to stop moving the goalpost. In The Psychology of Money, Morgan Housel writes: “The hardest financial skill is getting the goalpost to stop moving.” He’s talking about how, when we reach a new level in our standard of living, it’s common to then move the goalpost further down the field. So rather than being satisfied, we feel the need to pursue the next goal, and then the next and the next. The goalpost keeps moving. In order to grow in contentment, we need to get the goalpost to stop moving by recognizing the illusion of money, by being satisfied with what we have, and by making the next application, which is…

Second, in our relationship with God, we must recognize that we have access to immeasurable spiritual, eternal, and soul-satisfying riches through Jesus. Ephesians 1:3 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” We have been blessed richly in Christ, and He can fulfill the deepest longings of our heart.

I encourage you to take a few minutes to reflect on some questions based on Ecclesiastes 5:10-20. As you reflect on these questions, you might find it helpful to write out your thoughts and responses. It’s important to take your time and be honest. Also, it would be good to talk with God about your responses.

  • 1 Timothy 6:10 says: “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” As I consider people I’ve known, society at large, or even my own life, how have I seen a love of money cause problems?

  • Is there an area of my life where it would be healthy for me to stop moving the goalpost and instead learn to be satisfied with what I already have?

  • Do I truly believe Jesus is enough to fulfill my longings for satisfaction, security, and success? Why or why not?

If the topics and questions during the Ecclesiastes series are troubling for you, you’re not alone! We are diving into some difficult emotional and spiritual territory. In the upcoming weeks, we will continue to discover the meaning God has for our lives; however, if at any time you feel overwhelmed or depressed over these topics, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or another staff member.


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