August 03, 2019

Wisdom, Knowledge, and Happiness

Ecclesiastes 2:22-26

To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness. . . .

—  Ecclesiastes 2:26

As a boy, Charles Dickens knew poverty from bitter experience. He never forgot what he had learned. Many of his novels deal with the huge gap between wealth and poverty. Perhaps the most unforgettable is A Christmas Carol. Its main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, is a “grasping, clutching, covetous old sinner” who can squeeze blood out of a stone. Bob Cratchit, his underpaid bookkeeper, shivers in his unheated corner of the office. But Bob has learned to be content in his situation.

At the meager Cratchit-family Christmas dinner, Bob proposes a toast: “Merry Christmas to Mr. Scrooge, the founder of the feast!” Mrs. Cratchit objects with scornful words about Scrooge, but Bob, in all humility replies mildly, “My dear, it’s Christmas ... and the children!” For all his poverty, Cratchit has wisdom and happiness. But Scrooge, for all his wealth, has a bleak and miserable life.

Here is something of the complexity and mystery about wealth and poverty. Most people think that wealth brings happiness. But that is not always so. Marxism claims that wealth always comes by oppressing the poor. But that is not always so. Happiness and contentment can exist in the midst of scarcity, and the poor can oppress each other. What’s more, the rich can be righteous, and they can be a blessing to the poor. Faith in God and living by his love are the keys to finding happiness.

Lord, give us the wisdom to examine our motives and actions without fooling ourselves. May we please you in all we do. In Jesus, Amen.

About the author — George Young

George Young, a native New Yorker, worked as a taxi driver in New York City before studying to become a pastor. Then he, his wife Ruth, and their children were missionaries for many years in northeastern Japan. They worked with ministers and believers from the Reformed Church in Japan to spread the good news of salvation in Christ and ­establish new churches. Now George and Ruth are retired and live in the northeastern United States, nearer to their children and grandchildren.

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