19 peace1We often think that a sudden influx of money would solve all our problems. The truth is, as Solomon pointed out in Ecclesiastes 5:11, the more money you have, the more problems you have. But wouldn’t it be nice not to have any worries at all? Solomon anticipated that question and in Ecclesiastes 5:12 he answers it for us. He writes, “Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.” Money doesn’t bring the peace that we think it will. Quite the contrary, money always brings turmoil. Actually what happens is instead of you owning it, it now owns you.

Things own us! Ralph Waldo Emerson put it this way, “Things are in the saddle and are riding mankind.” At age 53, John D. Rockefeller was the world’s only billionaire. His income averaged a million a week! But he was a very sick man who lived on milk and crackers and could never sleep nights because of worry. But when he started giving his money away his health returned and he lived to celebrate his 98th birthday. Janis Joplin is right in many respects when she sang, “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” (Me & Bobby McGee Lyrics) Having a lot of money can be unhealthy. It’s often physically unhealthy. Derek Kidner looks at all our “modern exercise-machines and health clubs” and says it is “one of our human absurdities to pour out money and effort just to undo the damage of money and ease.” Oliver Goldsmith, a 1700s Irishman, wrote, “Ill fares the land, to hast’ning ills a prey, where wealth accumulates, and men decay.”

It can also be bad for us psychologically as well. Just last year Time magazine ran an article on 10 millionaires that committed suicide. The stresses associated with vast wealth can be overwhelming. I’m reminded of Edward Arlington Robinson’s famous poem “Richard Cory.” Here are the last two stanzas of that poem: “And he was rich – yes, richer than a king – And admirably schooled in every grace: In fine, we thought that he was everything to make us wish that we were in his place. So on we worked, and waited for the light, and went without the meat, and cursed the bread; And Richard Cory, one calm summer night, went home and put a bullet through his head.” I found an interesting quote on the New Age site (The Divine Life). They write as if these truths are unique to their religion: “Peace is not in money, estate, bungalows, and possessions. Peace does not dwell in outward things, but within the soul. Money cannot give you peace. You can purchase many things, but you cannot purchase peace. You can buy soft beds, but you cannot buy sleep. You can buy good food, but you cannot buy good appetite. You can buy good tonics, but you cannot buy good health. You can buy good books, but you cannot buy wisdom.” These are found in Ecclesiastes three thousand years ago and endorsed by the New Testament. According to Paul, peace is not of the soul, but of the spirit. The first three fruits of the Spirit are, love, joy and peace…”