I have read the bible a lot, but likely haven't spent as much time with it as some. I guess the book itself was never the major emphasis of my faith. Coming from that background, it is fascinating to turn back to the bible and read it with new perspective and an open mind. There are many discoveries I am making of its contents that surprise me.
Friday, October 12, 2012
Work and Money
I wanted to look at this week the idea of working, wealth and money. I think this is an important topic and one that holds a lot of significance for me. The questions arise, is money a bad thing? Is being wealthy? Can you still be wealthy but do a proper job of prioritizing faith/god? It can't be as simple as Rich equals bad and Poor equals good can it? I found this verse and in its entirety it was informative and fascinating in its nuances and complexity regarding the topic. I pasted the chapter and some summary points below.
1 As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut! Don't be a fool who doesn't realize that mindless offerings to God are evil. 2 And don't make rash promises to God, for he is in heaven, and you are only here on earth. So let your words be few. 3 Just as being too busy gives you nightmares, being a fool makes you a blabbermouth. 4 So when you make a promise to God, don't delay in following through, for God takes no pleasure in fools. Keep all the promises you make to him. 5 It is better to say nothing than to promise something that you don't follow through on. 6 In such cases, your mouth is making you sin. And don't defend yourself by telling the Temple messenger that the promise you made was a mistake. That would make God angry, and he might wipe out everything you have achieved. 7 Dreaming all the time instead of working is foolishness. And there is ruin in a flood of empty words. Fear God instead. 8 If you see a poor person being oppressed by the powerful and justice being miscarried throughout the land, don't be surprised! For every official is under orders from higher up, and matters of justice only get lost in red tape and bureaucracy. 9 Even the king milks the land for his own profit! 10 Those who love money will never have enough. How absurd to think that wealth brings true happiness! 11 The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what is the advantage of wealth -- except perhaps to watch it run through your fingers! 12 People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich are always worrying and seldom get a good night's sleep. 13 There is another serious problem I have seen in the world. Riches are sometimes hoarded to the harm of the saver, 14 or they are put into risky investments that turn sour, and everything is lost. In the end, there is nothing left to pass on to one's children. 15 People who live only for wealth come to the end of their lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day they were born. 16 And this, too, is a very serious problem. As people come into this world, so they depart. All their hard work is for nothing. They have been working for the wind, and everything will be swept away. 17 Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud -- frustrated, discouraged, and angry. 18 Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is 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. 19 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 -- that is indeed a gift from God. 20 People who do this rarely look with sorrow on the past, for God has given them reasons for joy.
Ecclesiastes Chapter 5
I would usually paste only a verse or two from the bible, but this passage I think is important in context as a chapter. A lot of the versus effect one another and I think there is meaning to be gained from reading the whole thing. Here are my biggest take aways from it:
· Being Busy can haunt you and literally give you nightmares (I have experienced this unfortunately)
· Important to keep your word and stay in integrity. If you take on too much/promise too much you become a fool quickly and making empty promises can ruin you.
· Don’t make excuses for promises you cannot follow through on.
· Leaders with power can be selfish and Bureaucracy can mask injustice or misused power
· Wealth does not bring true happiness and if you love money you will never have enough
· People who live only for wealth come to the end of their lives empty handed
· Working for self is like working for the wind- it leaves you with nothing when you die and causes you to live frustrated, discouraged and angry
· It is good for people to eat well, enjoy pleasures (aka wine) and take satisfaction in their work in whatever trade it may be.
· It is a good thing to receive wealth from God and good health and enjoy it.
· To enjoy your work and to accept what you are given is the ultimate and is one of the ultimate gifts from God, as people who do this rarely have regrets and have lots of reasons for joy
· Those who work hard sleep well whether they have a lot or a little (aka, it is not about what you have/accumulate, it is about how you live your life and how you do your work)
I would be curious to hear about peoples reaction to this verse and my analysis.
What is this chapter warning us of? What is it telling us to prioritize? What is Surprising about this chapter? What about this chapter makes you uncomfortable?
I feel this passage provides an interesting perspective of how to live our lives that is very directly applicable. My prediction is that this makes the verse important but also potentially a cause of discomfort and tension. I would love to hear people’s thoughts.