Two lessons from a wise man.

February 20, 2014.

Today a friend of mine and I were studying Ecclesiastes, and we ran across a passage that I liked so much that I decided it was worthy of yet again jumping back into this book for today’s post (in all fairness, it really doesn’t take much for me to make that decision).

“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words.”
(Ecclesiastes 5:1-3)

There are a couple of lessons that I believe we can pull from these three verses:

1. We must remember our place when we come before God.

With our Western eyes and culture, it is sometimes easy to forget who we are in relation to the creator of the universe. I see more and more production and entertainment in worship styles today, and it makes me cringe. We care more about our own experience than we do worshipping him who has enabled us to have said experience. These things ought not to be so. If you do any in depth study of the Old Testament, you will find that the laws surrounding worship and sacrifice were very stringent. Now, I’m not saying we are under the burdensome law of Moses, but I do believe it was established for a reason. We are now under a law of freedom (Gal. 5), but it is still a law (James 1:25, 2:12). That may sound oxymoronic, but actually it should make complete sense to Americans. In the USA, we are called the land of the free. We experience freedom and take pride in our liberty. Yet, there is still a governing body that makes civil laws that we must follow, unless we are to loose our freedom. This is how I picture the law of freedom in Christ. Thus, I believe we should take a close look on what we are doing to worship and praise our creator, and make sure our motives are completely pure and not focused on our own selfish desires. Our God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. He demands our respect (and fear).

“But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.”
(Habakkuk 2:20)

2. Wise men speak few words.

We have seen this theme time and again in Ecclesiastes. The wiser the person, the less he or she seems to say. In context, this chapter is talking about vows. Solomon was very clear when he was talking about taking a vow. If you do it, you are to actually carry out what you say. Vows were taken very seriously in these times. In his wisdom, however, he said you should just not take vows. Our Lord hits on this during his ministry:

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.”
(Matthew 5:33-37)

We are to be people of our word, something that I believe has been lost in our generation. Solomon’s remedy, at least somewhat, is to simply have few words. Do not tell fifteen different people that you will do fifteen different things. It is much easier to keep to your words when your words are few.
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There is so much wisdom in Ecclesiastes, even though most view it as a depressive book (perhaps for good reason). I would encourage you to stick with it regardless and pull out many of the jewels it has to offer.

Suggested Daily reading: Leviticus 10, Ecclesiastes 5-6, Habakkuk 2.

The Lord bless you and keep you in his fold.

-Walter

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