“LET’S TALK ABOUT STOCKPILING”        By Pastor YAU

Text: Ecclesiastes 5:10-20                                  April 3, 2011.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   What is now: Jennifer Benson Schuldt visited an estate sale and has the following reflection: Rugs, lamps, a washer and a dryer, even the food in the cupboards---everything is for sale! We wandered through the big house, overwhelmed by the volume of belongings. Dish sets littered the dining room table. Christmas decorations filled the hallway. Tools, toy cars, board games and books, vantage dolls crowded the garage. When we left, I wondered if the homeowners were moving, or they desperately needed money due to a divorce or if they had passed away.

2)   That was then: This reminds us the words of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes: “Just exactly as he came, so shall he go.” (5:16) We are born empty-handed and we leave the world the same way. The stuff we buy, treasure, organize and stockpile is ours only for a while---and it’s all in a state of decay. Moths munch through our clothes, even gold and silver may not hold their value (James 5:2-3). Sometimes “riches perish through mis-fortunes” (5:14) and our children don’t get to enjoy or don’t care our possessions after we are gone. Stockpiling possessions is foolish because we can’t take anything with us when we die.

 

WHY STOCKPILING? Just list a few as examples.

1)      In case someday: This is the most common reason people stockpile stuff from money to clothing, from food to things of everyday use. We want to make sure that if someday we need something, we have plenty in stock.

2)      For rainy days: No one may predict what life may turn the next day, so safe keeping things for rainy days is a step of safeguard. You don’t want to be left in the cold unprepared.

3)      More is better: Some people just have that unbridled greed of material possession not because they really need them, but just want to have them. We often buy things we want, not we need.

4)      To show off. According to reports published by Wikipedia recently, the Sultan (king) of Brunei owns the following vehicles: 531 Mercedes, 367 Ferraris, 362 Bentleys, 160 Porsches, 130 Rolls Royce and countless other nice cars in his collection of luxury cars. If he takes turn to ride in one of those cars each day, it will take him more than 4 years to ride them all. I think the only reason this super rich king wants to own all these expensive cars is to show off his tremendous wealth.

 

PROBLEMS OF STOCKPILING:

1)   We waste resources: I don’t believe the Sultan of Brunei will ride in all those cars he has stockpiled. How many pieces of clothing we have bought but never or rarely wear them? How about all the food, snacks and other perishables we bought and expired so we throw them away. We should not waste resources God provides for all the people, not just for us. Wasting God’s resource is being unfaithful to God and unfair to others.

2)   We nurture greed: Greed is an insatiable evil appetite. The more we try to satisfy greed, the worse it will become. This is true to all people regardless of how much we already have we always want some more. If we keep feeding greed its appetite will grow until we can’t keep it up any more and we will feel unhappy and tired regardless how much we have and how hard we try.

3)   We create illusion: Most people create an illusion of security by stockpiling up material possessions. The more they accumulate the safer feeling they build. But this is far from being the reality. Both the Bible and real life tell us that material possessions can not build real security because they are unreliable and fleeting.

4)   We erode true faith: Christians suppose to build our faith in God, His faithful love and supplies. When we stockpile material possessions and build our faith on them, we erode our faith and dependency on God unconsciously. In fact, we are making idols out of material matters instead of have God as our security. This is a very serious spiritual defect we always need to watch out.

 

BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES ON POSSESSIONS: (Eccl. 5:10-20)

1)     Stockpiling is emptiness: “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This is too emptiness. As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owner  except to feast his eyes on them?” (5:10-11) The more one has, the more ways he will find to spend his money. In addition to this, there will be more people want to help him spend his wealth. The end is just a sweet memory or a bitter experience.

2)     Stockpiling brings anxiety: “The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eat little or much, but the abundance of a rich man will not allow him good sleep.” (5:12, KJV) I witnessed with my own eyes when I worked at a bank in Hong Kong at how the rich suffered so much in sleepless nights, worried about loss of their wealth. So many once rich investors suffered mental breakdown and were hospitalized in mental facilities when the stock market in Hong Kong crushed in pieces in mid-1970s.

3)     Stockpiling won’t follow you: “Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand. This too is grievous evil. As a man comes, so he departs, and what does he gain, since he toils for the wind.” (5:15-16) Being a pastor for over 40 years I have conducted many funerals from very simple to quite lavished but never once have I seen anyone stuffed the coffins with silver and gold, jewelry or treasures. The best the bodies usually get is the outfit they used to wear, a ring or a watch. All they have accumulated are not with them. Why bother working so hard and piling up so much?

4)     Stockpiling God’s way: “When God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in and be happy in his work, this is a gift of God.” (5:19) God has a purpose in giving wealth and possessions to us, and He claims ownership on all his gifts. We are custodians of his treasures and we need to use His treasures His way. Any selfish way of stockpiling up God’s treasure for our own selfish purpose is against God’ will. We are to use what God has given us to achieve His purpose and for His glory: Using resources to help the poor and the needy. Make generous donations to civic and Christian charitable and educational works. We certainly need to give to churches to expand ministries, to teach and train Christians to serve and to witness in our community. We also can support mission work and missionaries around the world. Money never used is just papers or numbers. But when it is used God’s way, it will bring results, fruits and dividend.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)     What do you have? Usually, we know better what we don’t have, but God wants us to see what we have, what God has blessed us with His gifts. Knowing what we have is an important step to use them for bigger good for more people. Besides money, you have time, talents, good heart and even love. Use them to the best you can for people and for God.

2)     What can you do? You cannot keep all you have to yourself or for your family. You can use your resource for people and things greater than your small circle of family and friends. Most Chinese are stingy in donating estates or large amount of money to churches, charitable institutions or communities. Since we can’t bring our resources with us when we die, why not give them away for some good courses while you can.