Ecclesiastes 5: On Charity
I think that we can sometimes run into a dilemma on the concept of charity. On one hand, we know that we are supposed to help people. We talked yesterday about social justice. It is a good thing to help people who are in need. We can find plenty of Biblical justification for being a good neighbor and helping those in need. Think about the parable of the Good Samaritan. He didn’t think about his own inconvenience; he helped with whatever he had.
Ecclesiastes 5 might seem to run into a bit of a contradiction then.
Ecc 5:18 Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.
Ecc 5:19 Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God.
I don’t know about you, but I have occasionally wondered how it is possible to do both. For example, I know that all of us here in America have been incredibly blessed. I don’t mean to make light of poverty, but when you compare poverty in America to poverty in other places in the world, there really isn’t very much of a comparison.
How then is it possible for me to justify keeping anything for myself? After all, even if I have one decent sized meal a day, I have more than so many people throughout the world. How can I possibly justify having another one? I should be more concerned about giving that away and using it to help those who have less than I do.
I think that Ecclesiastes 5 is able to help put this in perspective though. Whatever God has given to you, you should enjoy it. You should enjoy your portion. However, God defines that portion. That is what is vital to remember.
Let’s say I became a millionaire. I became incredibly good as an insurance underwriter and brought in quite a bit of money. I would certainly have the ability to buy a Ferrari. I could pick up a pen and write a check. That wouldn’t be a problem.
However, if I only looked after my own desires, that would be wrong. All of that money that I hypothetically made belongs to God and is available for His use. He decides what portion of it I should have. That is why we need to be very prayerful with our finances. God certainly wants us to use some of it because if we gave away everything, we would certainly die of starvation. Jesus tells us not to worry about what we will have to eat, but when that physical need is provided, we certainly do not need to give that gift from God away.
I know this is a difficult topic, but we need to work very hard to find a balance. We certainly have an obligation to be charitable. We have an obligation to help people. However, on the other hand, God has given us things that we are told to enjoy. The biggest thing to remember is that all of that really belongs to God. We cannot fall in love with our money. We follow God, and He directs how we use what we have.