What’s our aim

Most people know Solomon was wise and rich. Very wise and very rich.

The Bible says that “King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth” (1 Kings 10:23). As we read of Solomon’s glory, we are to understand that his gifts came from God. They were a continuation of God’s blessings upon King David, Solomon’s father.

I’ve heard many sermons take that too far and relate Solomon’s prosperity to all believers. That is, because Solomon was rich, you should be, too. That’s poor theology, and it’s an abuse of what the story could teach us about faithfulness to God. Remember that Solomon didn’t ask for wealth when given the chance. At the onset of his reign, he first asked God to bless him with wisdom. He wanted to ensure he could lead his people with a wise heart. The riches came after.

Again, that hasn’t stopped many Christians from presuming that God wants them to be the richest people on the planet.

I can’t make that conclusion from any part of the Bible. Jesus offers too many warnings about our relationship to wealth. And if you’re using Solomon as your example, you’re missing the whole story. Solomon’s wisdom and riches impressed a lot of people. He even pleased God by asking for wisdom. But there’s too much in the rest of his story to think God remained all that impressed with him.

Solomon didn’t employ his wisdom at times and he used his money for things other than the glory of God. It could be his is more a cautionary tale rather than a believe-in-God-and-you-can-be-rich-like-Solomon proof text.

It says something about Christians and the idols we maintain when who would rather be like Solomon than Chuck Feeney. Most people don’t know Chuck Feeney. He is a billionaire with a peculiar goal. Well, he was a billionaire–yes, a ten-digit number. His fortune is gone. At least, he doesn’t have it anymore. In short, he followed a “giving while living” way of life and decided to give away the billions of dollars he earned.

And he did.

It’s been said he isn’t a churchgoer, but someone whose faith is important to him. (You know how I feel about that!) He once said, “People who have money have an obligation. I wouldn’t say I’m entitled to them what to do with it but to use it wisely.”

Wisdom and riches.

To use riches wisely is to use them for the benefit of other people. One of his first big givings was to help further the Irish peace process. All his giving came to light fairly recently. Before then, he gave it all away anonymously.

So, here’s the connection for us today. Solomon is known for his wisdom and riches. But what did he do with them? His name translates to “peace.” The supposed peace that endured during his reign didn’t last long after he died. Look at what happened before he died to consider what mattered more to him. 

All that helps me reflect on what I am to do with what God has given me. I also must consider how God wants to use my church’s resources–they are a big part of my life. What aim do we have for our wisdom and riches? Are we more focused on the American Dream or the Kingdom of God? You don’t need billions of dollars to answer that question.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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