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Work and Wealth in a Wicked World

Work and Wealth in a Wicked World

Nov 13, 2016

Passage: Ecclesiastes 3:16-4:6

Preacher: Tom Ascol

Series: Ecclesiastes - Real Life in a Fallen World

Category: Sunday Morning

Keywords: injustice, justice, labor, oppression, riches, wealth, work


Pastor Tom Ascol continues his series on Ecclesiastes with a message centered on Chapter 3:16 through Chapter 4:6 entitled “Work and Wealth in a Fallen World.” Injustice, oppression, and hopelessness have characterized the life of countless numbers over the centuries. It remains the lot of many today. The Preacher observes this theme in today’s passage. Without God, the Preacher’s point in his use of the idiom “under the sun,” men can hope only to enjoy their work and its fruit.

Injustice is so rampant we sometimes fail to take notice. Siblings intentionally hurt each other, employers are less than fair in dealing with employees, marriages fall apart, people are wrongly convicted of crimes they did not commit, and the list goes on. Even in the places of justice and righteousness (v. 16), courts and churches, there is injustice. Christians must ignore these injustices. We should face up to these evils and try to remedy them, recognizing a time is coming when God will render judgment. On that day every injustice will be exposed and righteousness will finally prevail.

Jesus spoke about this judgment in Matthew 25:31-46. Making it personal the Lord indicated judgment for the righteous and the evil. There is only one remedy for our evilness. It is wise to remember that the remedy, the provision of God, is available. Verse 20 emphasizes the inevitability of our coming death. Mankind needs to turn to the work of Jesus on the Cross of Calvary to be saved and to be given the righteousness of Christ against which there will be no judgment; God freely offers salvation.

The author of Ecclesiastes continues. The early verses of Chapter 4 teach the world is a place of oppression and abuse. People abuse power. Greed exercising dominion over some. The oppressed have no one to comfort them, “under the sun.” Despair sets in, as Preacher notes, it is better to have never lived than to be born to such abuse. He goes on. The world is a place of toil and envy. He generalizes the futility of life but notes all man’s striving ultimately is “vanity and a striving after the wind” (v. 4). All the envy (4) leads to the impossibility of a contented life.

Finally, Ecclesiastes turns to three attitudes toward work. The fool opts out of the workforce, a path Scripture teaches against: “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). The second attitude is one of workaholism, two hands constantly busy striving for more, indicating a life out of balance. Psalm 127:2 teaches, “It is vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil.” Finally verse 6 encourages us to a hand at work and a handful of quietness. There ought to be a balance between work and enjoying or resting in the fruit of one’s toils.

The world is indeed fallen. The believer in Christ, understanding this, should seek to live quiet, productive lives in balance between work and enjoyment “according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).