Bread, Wine, and Money
“Bread is made for laughter, and wine gladdens life, and money answers everything.”- Ecclesiastes 10:19
Scripture commends fasting at appropriate times (Matt. 9:14–15), and some of the greatest saints lived austere lifestyles (for example, John the Baptist; Mark 1:4–6). However, the Word of God by no means elevates asceticism as the highest form of devotion. In fact, many believers whom we read about in the Bible had much personal wealth (for example, Abraham and the wealthy women who supported Jesus’ ministry; Gen. 13:2; Luke 8:1–3). Certainly, we must honor the Lord with our material prosperity, but that does not mean all of us must give all our money away. In fact, honoring God with the gifts He has given us includes enjoying them out of gratitude toward Him for His goodness (1 Tim. 4:4).
The Preacher who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, in his search for meaning in this vain (or fleeting) life, discerned that we may rightly make use of material blessings from our Creator. Consider today’s passage, wherein we read that “bread is made for laughter, and wine gladdens life, and money answers everything” (Eccl. 10:19). Here we see that God made food not simply for mere sustenance but to bring joy to our lives. There is a place for feasting, for rejoicing and being glad as we consume the good things the Lord has brought our way. We need not feel guilty about enjoying a fine meal or other things that come from our Creator’s bounty. Obviously, our Maker does not want us to do this at the expense of helping others or supporting the work of the kingdom. This would be to store up wealth for ourselves without being rich toward God (Luke 12:13–21). Nevertheless, we are not lesser saints if we enjoy the Lord’s material blessings as part of honoring Him with our wealth.
The Preacher’s statement that “money answers everything” (Eccl. 10:19) is a simple practical observation that wealth is a tool that can meet the need for food, clothing, shelter, and so on. We should not take his words as endorsing the idea that absolutely every issue one can think of can be solved with money. That is because the Preacher understands the fear of the Lord as the heart of life (Eccl. 12:13–14). Matthew Henry comments: “Money of itself answers nothing; it will neither feed nor clothe; but, as it is the instrument of commerce, it answers all the occasions of this present life. What is to be had may be had for money. But it answers nothing to the soul; it will not procure the pardon of sin, the favor of God, the peace of conscience; the soul, as it is not redeemed, so it is not maintained, with corruptible things as silver and gold.”
When we see the great needs of other people, it is easy for us to feel a little guilty about enjoying the good gifts of God. However, we are not sinning if, as part of our God-honoring lifestyle, we go on a fun trip, eat a good meal, or do other such things. The Lord calls us to be generous with our wealth and to support the work of His kingdom, but there is a place for us to enjoy what He has given us as part of thanking Him for His goodness.
Passages for Further Study