Greed and God

Ecclesiastes: The Search For Meaning  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  42:52
0 ratings
Sermon Tone Analysis
View more →

Greed and God

I had a conversation with one of my buddies back in NC a few weeks ago and he went to a pastor’s conference.
At the conference, the one of the things that stood out to him was a speaker who was encouraging pastors to talk about what are taboo subjects in many churches.
And I was curious what the subjects were
What do we need to talk about more from the pulpit that is going to aid the development of disciples in our congregation.
So I asked him what those subjects were.
What subjects should pastors preach about biblically that help in the formation of our walk with Jesus.
He said, Sex and Money.
And I can already see that some of you are getting a little uneasy.
We aren’t going to talk about sex this morning.
But we are going to talk about money.
Specifically the problems with greed in the hearts of men.
I’m not sure if you have noticed or not, but there has been a theme in Ecclesiastes.
A theme that there is nothing on this earth that satisfies.
There is no amount of satisfaction that we can achieve from the things under the sun that will last.
In v. 1-7, Solomon talked about how we approach God when we come to worship, and here, he is going to venture us back into the world.
And this morning Solomon is going to turn back to a subject that he has talked about earlier.
A subject that might make us a little uncomfortable.
B/c if we are honest with ourselves we all suffer, at least a little, from greed.
Maybe not to the extremes as some, but at least enough to claim that it is my money.
I can do what I want with my money.
I earned it.
But as followers of Jesus, we have to realize that nothing belongs to us.
It all belongs to God.
It’s all his.
And we need to be thankful for all that he has blessed us with.
We should treasure every little blessing that comes from God.
Knowing that we don’t deserve any goodness.
We should enjoy the gifts we tend to take for granted.
God’s goodness and grace on our lives is apparent and he deserves the praise and the honor for it.
Why is greed and the love of money so bad?
B/c Greed is destructive.
So how do we combat greed?
How do we fight against the tendency to be selfish and miserly with God’s Good gifts to us?
Gratitude and Generosity.
We will look at those a little later in the sermon, but first I want to talk about how we are going to traverse Solomon’s teachings this morning.
The Section of Scripture we are going to look at this morning has what is called a Chaistic structure.
Here’s what that means.
A Chiasm is a literary tool that drives home a specific point
The way the tool is used in literature is for us to see that the point in the middle is the bullseye.
A chiasm is made up of parallel parts.
At the beginning of the chiasm will be one statement or thought that is paralleled at the bottom.
Then the next thought or statement will be paralleled at in the sentenced next to end.
With the main point, the target, the bullseye the focal point in the center of the structure.
That’s what we see happen here in Ecc 5:8-6:9
Greed on the outside, but the focus on the inside.
The center of the passage.
The point of what Solomon is getting across comes in 5:18-20.
Finding Joy and delight in God and the gifts he has given.
And that’s how I will conclude the sermon this morning, but first we need to examine the bad news.
The problems with greed.
What we are going to see in the first part of the sermon is that greed is self-destructive and it also hurts others.
Let’s pray and ask for God’s guidance, correction, and conviction this morning.
Ecclesiastes 5:8–9 CSB
8 If you see oppression of the poor and perversion of justice and righteousness in the province, don’t be astonished at the situation, because one official protects another official, and higher officials protect them. 9 The profit from the land is taken by all; the king is served by the field.


The first problem we see with Greed is that it hurts people.
This is observed by Solomon in the treatment of the poor through the act of the government.
The reality is that the government and those in power want to stay in power and in a wicked and corrupt government the way that they accomplish this is through systemic oppression of the poor.
Oppression and injustice happens in every type of governmental institution.
B/c they are ran by man.
and man’s heart is easily corruptible and likely to chase after greed.
For the communists, the state seizes control of production and demonstrates oppression through power.
For the capitalistic model of democracy that permeates our country, profit is seen as more important that people.
In each of these extremes, the well being of the individual is suppressed through the pursuit of greed.
And in Solomon’s example he says that one official protects another.
Meaning those in power want to stay in power.
They don’t want to allow for an outsider to come in and shake things up.
They don’t want to allow their power to be stripped away.
B/c with power comes money.
and with money comes greed.
So in order to keep the money, the governmental officials, through law and regulations must oppress those who don’t have any power.
Now you may be hearing this and think that I am vying for one type of government over another.
But I want you to know, much like Solomon, I know that when men get power, if they are committed to God then they are going to pursue whatever benefits themselves.
So I am not making a political statement here.
I am observing the reality of our world.
But I also don’t want us to look at the state of the governments and think that it would be better if we didn’t have governmental officials.
Solomon isn’t saying that either.
In fact, as a society we benefit from governmental oversight.
God has established that governments are a way to dole out justice in our world.
Even though they aren’t perfect, they are useful and God’s way until his perfect government is established.
That’s the hope that we get to long for and to look forward to.
Isaiah 9:6–7 CSB
6 For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 7 The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the Lord of Armies will accomplish this.
So we see that greed is oppressive and hurts others, and now Solomon is going to turn and show us what Greed does to ourselves.
Ecclesiastes 5:10 CSB
10 The one who loves silver is never satisfied with silver, and whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with income. This too is futile.

Empty Endless Pursuit

I want us to see and know something real quick.
Money isn’t evil.
Wealth isn’t wicked.
Wanting to provide for your family here and in the future is a wonderful mindset and goal.
The problem is the love of Money.
The love of money, or as it says in this text silver, is the issue.
Loving silver leaves us empty.
The greedy pursuit of wealth will never satisfy.
No matter how much you have you will never be satisfied.
And if you love money, you will always want more.
One of the richest people to ever live was John D. Rockefeller.
And someone asked him once, how much money is enough.
And his reply was, “Just a little bit more.”
So Solomon tells us that it is a hevel. Vanity.
Meaningless. Chasing bubbles.
We see here that the love of money is an addiction.
We just need a little bit more.
The appetite is never satisfied.
And I want us to be cautious here.
Just b/c you don’t feel ensnared by the temptation of greed right now doesn’t mean that you are completely immune to it.
The addiction to money can and will grasp a hold of you if you aren’t checking your heart.
Check your heart, not you bank account.
B/c like other false god’s the love of money will appeal to you when you aren’t focused on God.
I like what this one commentator said, “If anything is worse than the addiction money brings, it is the emptiness it leaves. Man, with eternity in his heart, needs better nourishment than this.”
In 1997, Notorious B.I.G, Puff Daddy, and Ma$e came out with a song that goes along with what Solomon points out.
Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.
Ecclesiastes 5:11 CSB
11 When good things increase, the ones who consume them multiply; what, then, is the profit to the owner, except to gaze at them with his eyes?


Here’s the reality, when wealth increases people come out of the woodwork just to attach themselves to that wealth.
They want to take what is yours and apply it to themselves.
This is one of the reason that so many athletes that make a ton of money professionally retire and are in the poor house subsequently.
So the money is consumed by others.
Whether it be children or other dependents.
Taxes from the government, or other organizations begging for a piece of the pie.
The more money you have the more others try to consume it.
But not only will other people want to consume it, it will also consume the person who has it.
Solomon warns that the wealthy person who loves money just gazes at his wealth with his own eyes.
Never taking his eyes off of what he has accumulated.
He is consumed with the product of his work.
He is consumed with the problems that come with it.
He is consumed with keeping it at all costs.
The love of money consumes his every waking moment.
And being consumed with this love of money leads to another issue.
Ecclesiastes 5:12 CSB
12 The sleep of the worker is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of the rich permits him no sleep.

Restless Wealth

The hard worker out in the field finds sweet sleep.
But the wealthy man who loves money, is restless.
B/c he worries about his wealth.
And b/c he doesn’t want to lose luxurious life.
He doesn’t want to forfeit his comfort and complacency.
His worries about wealth.
He worries about keeping it.
He worries about losing it.
He worries about his investments.
He worries about the inheritance he will leave.
The rich worry about their riches.
They have the indigestion of materialism that keeps them up at night.
So I want you to see that Solomon wants us to know that wealth doesn’t equal freedom and joy.
There is no joy in the love of money.
In fact, with the love of money comes, a wealth of worries.
This is Contrasted with the poor laborer that sleeps like a baby b/c he has worked hard and knows that tomorrow is going to be the same as today.
Working hard and having refreshing sleep is a blessing.
While on the other hand loving money, worrying about money, is chaotic and futile.
One of the reasons that the lover of money worries about having money is b/c he knows that it doesn’t take much to lose it.
Ecclesiastes 5:13–14 CSB
13 There is a sickening tragedy I have seen under the sun: wealth kept by its owner to his harm. 14 That wealth was lost in a bad venture, so when he fathered a son, he was empty-handed.

Here Today Gone Tomorrow

In v. 13, Solomon points out that wealth and the love of money causes harm to the one who has it.
If you rely on the money you earn to keep you and satisfy you then you will bring harm upon yourself.
Solomon is relaying a story about a man that chased after money and lost it all.
There is an assumption in the OT is that a father will leave an inheritance or legacy for his children.
Pro 13:22 “22 A good man leaves an inheritance to his grandchildren, but the sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.”
However, this mans love of money and pursuit of wealth above all, leaves him in a bad business venture.
And he loses all he had gained b/c of his greed.
So he has nothing to pass on to his son.
B/c the reality is money comes and money goes.
And our hope shouldn’t be in money, but in the God of creation.
And when our hope is in money and wealth, we can see the harm that it causes.
We’ve seen this in the financial crashes that our country has endured.
I don’t know if you noticed, but every time a recession hits or the stock market crashes, it seems like there are an increased number of suicides.
Now to be sure suicide is the extreme.
But when all your hope is tied up in the wealth and lifestyle that you have accumulated then when you loose it all, it has a tragic impact on your life.
Essentially, your god, the god of money, has left you high and dry.
The fruitless pursuit of the love of money leaves behind a path of tragedy.
B/c it leaves us empty.
And lets just imagine for a moment that you acquire wealth.
And you never lose it b/c of a bad business venture.
You can’t take it with you when you leave.
Ecclesiastes 5:15–16 CSB
15 As he came from his mother’s womb, so he will go again, naked as he came; he will take nothing for his efforts that he can carry in his hands. 16 This too is a sickening tragedy: exactly as he comes, so he will go. What does the one gain who struggles for the wind?

Can’t Take it With You

You cannot take the money you make or the possessions you gain here on earth with you when you die.
Solomon is again bringing up the theme and refrain that death is a reality for all who live.
The man who lost all his money in a bad business venture now realizes that it didn’t matter how much he gained, that he can’t take it with him when he dies.
And We are all going to die.
So are we making the most out of life?
Or are we pursuing the things that don’t matter.
V.15, sounds very similar to what Job says in Job 1:21 “21 saying: Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
We come into this world with nothing.
We leave this world with nothing.
So, it is vanity, meaningless, and futile to put all our hope in wealth and the things of this world.
B/c chasing after the dollar.
Loving the god of money
will simply cause us more and more misery.
Ecclesiastes 5:17 CSB
17 What is more, he eats in darkness all his days, with much frustration, sickness, and anger.


This cautionary tale that Solomon lays before about this man who had it all and lost it all shows us that loving money ends up bringing nothing but misery.
The person that loves money.
The man who chases after the comfort that money promises will never find it.
Instead, darkness, frustration, sickness, and anger.
So not only is life wasted when we pursue the love of money, but that life is also filled with anger, emptiness, and gloom.
Why is this?
Because the things of this world will never satisfy.
So with the lack of satisfaction, there is still a hunger.
And with hunger comes misery.
There is no joy to be found.
There is no happiness to be found when you spend your life chasing after money and you come to the point of discovering that it is all empty, futile, and meaningless.
Just imagine if you believe that the purpose of you life was to make and have lots of money and when you get to end of your life, you find that you can’t take it with you.
There is no contentment to be found.
Only meaningless and empty consumption.
Which leads us to chapter six.
We are going to circle back to 5:18-20 shortly, but first we want to continue to see the extremes that greed brings about in peoples lives.
Lets look at 6:1-2
Ecclesiastes 6:1–2 CSB
1 Here is a tragedy I have observed under the sun, and it weighs heavily on humanity: 2 God gives a person riches, wealth, and honor so that he lacks nothing of all he desires for himself, but God does not allow him to enjoy them. Instead, a stranger will enjoy them. This is futile and a sickening tragedy.


Solomon makes the observation that someone has received riches, wealth and honor.
He lacks nothing.
All of his desires are met, but he isn’t allowed to enjoy them.
This person Solomon is describing has something that many people want.
Fame and wealth.
He has it all according to our worldly standards except for joy.
What we have to see and this is something worth knowing, Stuff and Joy are separate.
It’s like when we are kids and we get that cool gift.
Robot, race car, or other toy.
We open the package only to discover that we need batteries.
but we find the batteries are not included.
The are sold separately.
Here we see that Joy is sold separately.
What do we do with the this though?
God gave this man what he desires, but God did not allow him to enjoy them.
He couldn’t have the gifts and enjoy them b/c he was detached from the source of joy.
God gave the man what he wanted, but the man didn’t realize what he needed.
He was so focused on this world and the pleasure found here, that he missed the true joy found in God.
What we have to realize is that God will sometimes give people what they desire not as a blessing, but as a judgment.
God will give them over to their depraved mind.
God will allow them the blessings of the world, and in receiving them they will become blind to the true blessing which is to know God and love him forever.
There will be swirling discontent in their hearts b/c they have forfeited the joy of God for the pleasure of creation.
This man doesn’t fear God.
He doesn’t love the giver of the gifts, but longs for the gifts themselves.
“The fear of the Lord is not just the beginning of knowledge; it is also the source of satisfaction.”
There is no satisfaction, no contentment if there is no fear of the Lord.
And Solomon is going to take this a step further in the next verses.
Ecclesiastes 6:3–6 CSB
3 A man may father a hundred children and live many years. No matter how long he lives, if he is not satisfied by good things and does not even have a proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. 4 For he comes in futility and he goes in darkness, and his name is shrouded in darkness. 5 Though a stillborn child does not see the sun and is not conscious, it has more rest than he. 6 And if a person lives a thousand years twice, but does not experience happiness, do not both go to the same place?


The man described here is one who by all accounts would appear to be blessed by God.
He has lots of kids. 100 of them
Which are considered a blessing from God.
So this dude was “super blessed.” He was fruitful and multiplied.
Not only that, but Solomon also adds on the fact that this hypothetical man may live many years.
But he his never satisfied.
He never finds satisfaction.
He is always hungry.
His life is full of blessings, but he always wants more.
Now in one of the more uncomfortable better than statements found in wisdom literature, Solomon tells us that the still born child is better off then this man is.
Both the discontent life and the birth of a stillborn child are tragedies.
But at least the child didn’t have to suffer the problems of the world.
Instead, he went straight into the arms of Jesus.
So in essence Solomon is saying that death is better than the discontent life.
This man had everything the world had to offer and he was still miserable.
Solomon wraps up the tragedy of this man’s life in v.6 pointing out that both the child and the man die.
The man lived a long life of discontent
And the child never took a breath.
And yet they both end up dying.
Death is the great equalizer.
Being discontent is worse than never being born.
So we need to Find contentment.
Find joy.
Find satisfaction.
But none of these are available under the sun.
None of them are found in creation.
Do you feel the hopelessness that Solomon is exposing when it comes to the search for satisfaction in the things of this world, specifically greed and wealth.
Well he has something he wants to add on before we go back and find the solution.
Ecclesiastes 6:7–9 CSB
7 All of a person’s labor is for his stomach, yet the appetite is never satisfied. 8 What advantage then does the wise person have over the fool? What advantage is there for the poor person who knows how to conduct himself before others? 9 Better what the eyes see than wandering desire. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.

Never Satisfied

If all of your labor.
All of your toil.
All of you searching is just for something that feels the belly then you will never be satisfied.
There will always be a longing in your bones for something more.
And generally that will lead to us seeking more of the thing that doesn’t satisfy.
Because often times we are stupid.
We think if something doesn’t bring us satisfaction all we need is just a little bit more.
Then it will.
And I hate that I keep saying the same thing, but the reality is sometimes we are too dense to get it. We are too self absorbed to get it.
Solomon has no qualms against repeating himself in this text b/c he knows how dense people can be.
We can know that chasing after fame, fortune, and wealth is a futile endeavor.
Yet we still believe that it matters.
If we desire things of this earth then we are going to end up empty.
It may satisfy for a moment.
It may bring joy and pleasure for a moment, but it will evaporate in our grasp.
It doesn’t matter if we are wise or if we are fools.
If we don’t hold on to the things of God we will be empty and longing for something more.
So how do we find satisfaction?
How do we find joy?
How do we find ultimate pleasure?
Let’s revisit the section we skipped over earlier.
Ecc 5:18-20
Ecclesiastes 5:18–20 CSB
18 Here is what I have seen to be good: It is appropriate to eat, drink, and experience good in all the labor one does under the sun during the few days of his life God has given him, because that is his reward. 19 Furthermore, everyone to whom God has given riches and wealth, he has also allowed him to enjoy them, take his reward, and rejoice in his labor. This is a gift of God, 20 for he does not often consider the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with the joy of his heart.

Enjoying God

To boil it down, to enjoy life we must first enjoy God.
That’s a pretty simple proposition.
But it’s difficult to stay there.
God created this life to be enjoyable.
But it is only truly and fully enjoyable when we are living in light of his goodness.
When we find rest and contentment not in the gifts he gives, but who he is.
The fact that we can taste, smell, love, and embrace are all gifts of God.
But when we take the gifts he has given for granted and point to ourselves as the center of the good things in life that’s when we will find ourselves longing for satisfaction.
Satisfaction, joy, love, and goodness aren’t found in the gifts of God, but in the giver of those gifts.
That’s the shift that needs to happen in our hearts, minds, and souls.
Gratitude for the good things.
Joy in the giver of good things.
Joy in God is his grace to us.
Joy, true joy, comes only from God.
And God gives us the power to enjoy his gifts when we view and see him rightly.
“The world that God created is full of many rich gifts, but the power to enjoy them does not lie in the gifts themselves. This is why it is always useless to worship the gifts instead of the Giver. The ability to enjoy wealth or family or friendship or food or work or sex or any other good gift comes only from God. Satisfaction is sold separately.”
We have to be careful here b/c what I don’t want you to hear is that we all have to be poor.
Or that if you have money or get money that you are somehow lesser in the kingdom of God.
If God has blessed you financially, never lose sight of where that blessing comes from.
We need people with money in the kingdom of God and he graciously provides them.
If you don’t have a lot of money God doesn’t love you any less.
Our satisfaction whether rich or poor comes from his grace and goodness in our lives.
The point isn’t the amount of wealth that someone has it’s the perspective of wealth they have.
As long as we are good stewards with God’s gifts he is pleased.
We have to turn from the greed that pollutes our hearts and pursue the God of grace.
But how do we do that?
What are practical steps to pursue God and turn away from greed.
I’m gonna lay out two.
First, I would argue that we need to practice habitual gratitude.
You need to wake up each morning thanking God for the good in your life.
You need to thank him for your family, friends, food, bank account, or whatever he has gifted you with.
Not asking for more, but realizing that you already have enough.
I know it sounds silly, but thanking God for both the big and small in your life will change your heart.
So before you even get up out of bed, I would challenge you this week to thank God for 10 things that he has blessed you with.
We have done this activity with our kids.
When they feel like they need something more, so their fussing and fighting discontent with what they have.
We have them list out things that they are thankful for.
And most of the time, pretty quickly they are drawn out of the funk and into a stance of gratitude.
B/c when we focus on the things we don’t have it’s easy to be discontent.
However, when we focus on the gifts we do have, we can find contentment.
The second way to stomp out greed in your heart is to be generous with what God has given you.
Give it away.
Don’t hoard it.
Don’t hold on to it.
Be generous with it.
You maybe saying, I don’t have enough to give away.
I bet most of you could find a way.
Get rid of your cable subscription.
Downgrade your automobile.
Eat beans and rice instead of going out.
There are always corners to be cut.
But not being generous with what God has given you is a sure fire way to tell if greed has a foothold in your life.
B/c none of it belongs to us anyway.
So we should be willing to give it away.
I’m not saying sell everything and give it to the poor.
I’m simply saying that if you give generously then greed can’t have a hold of you.
So if you want to live a life of Godliness instead of greed, be grateful and be generous.
And in being grateful and generous you will find contentment and trust in who God is.
1 Timothy 6:6–12 CSB
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out. 8 If we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. 9 But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 11 But you, man of God, flee from these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of eternal life to which you were called and about which you have made a good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
Lord’s Supper
Matthew 26:26–30 CSB
26 As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take and eat it; this is my body.” 27 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks, he gave it to them and said, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 But I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” 30 After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more