In this sermon, Pastor Dave Capoccia begins examining Solomon’s teaching as to how exactly God’s wisdom works with both great power and sobering limitation in life. In Ecclesiastes 7:15-22, Solomon gives two humbling exhortations to help you keep calm and carry on well in a fallen world.
1. Avoid Proud Extremes (15-18)
2. Remember Common Weakness (vv. 19-22)
Before we turn to the Word, let me pray. Holy God, empower me to speak this Word. Empower people today to hear it, heed it, and know the blessing of it in their lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. If you looked in the bulletin, you saw the title of this sermon today, which is Keep Calm and Carry On. You have probably heard this phrase before since it is popular and has appeared on various merchandise: mugs, t-shirts, decorations. The phrase is also parodied on social media. Some examples I have seen and enjoyed include: “keep calm and have a cuppa,” or “keep calm and call batman,” or “freak out and call mom.”
I was surprised to learn the background of this phrase in that it was originally part of a war propaganda poster created by the British Ministry of Information in June 1939, just months before WWII began. This poster was designed to be displayed publicly if and when war began with Nazi Germany and British cities ended up being bombed and gassed. The idea was to strengthen the morale of the people as they dealt with what could be extreme wartime devastation.
But though two and a half million copies of this poster were produced, most were never used and were recycled instead. A few posters that did end up being used did not have any positive impact. In other words, the posters were a total failure in their time.
However, in the year 2000 two British store owners found a surviving copy of this poster and liked it enough to display it in their shop as a framed decoration. Many of their patrons also liked the poster and requested to buy copies of it. The item became more and more popular and the poster design and its motto began to appear on other commercial products, just as we see today.
Why is it that this phrase has caught on two well so many years after its first failed creation? Probably none of us can all know or explain though I submit that our primary reason is that people recognize wisdom in this message from the past. I think we can see the message contained in those few words that life is hard and it is full of pleasant and unpleasant surprises. Don’t give into rage or despair or naively assume that all will go well. You’ll be happier and find more success if you stay cool and apply yourself to whatever is in front of you. Keep calm and carry on.
Now as I explain that philosophy to you, does it sound familiar? If you’ve been with us then this is another example of what Solomon has been talking about their being nothing new under the sun. This is just the wisdom of Ecclesiastes packaged in another modern form. This phrase is actually a good summary of what Solomon is going to teach us next in Ecclesiastes. Lat time when we were in the book of Ecclesiastes, we saw how the poem that introduced the second half of Ecclesiastes reminds us of wisdom’s narrow way. God’s wisdom can indeed help you live well in this fallen world that is sin cursed, death-dominated, and essentially a vapor of vapors.
Wisdom therefore is a priceless treasure and it is a great help to you in life. But even God’s wisdom has purposefully designed limits as to what it can do for you right now. This is something we have to understand because otherwise what will you do when God’s wisdom seems to fail? When you do everything right in a situation but still experience frustration, persecution, and heartbreak?
Also how will you respond to others when they fail you or fail to act in godly wisdom as they ought? Solomon is going to teach us today how to respond out of recognition to God’s good and ultimately inscrutable sovereignty when life doesn’t seem to work as it should. Don’t get angry or give up, fear God, keep calm and carry on.
Just briefly looking ahead before we read today’s passage, Ecclesiastes 7:15-8:15 shows several sections of true wisdom’s nuanced application to life. It’s going to show us what wisdom looks like without overvaluing it. We’re dealing with the first of those sections of specific applications today.
Let’s see how Solomon explains this valuable truth in Ecclesiastes 7:15-22:
I have seen everything during my lifetime of futility; there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his wickedness. Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself? Do not be excessively wicked and do not be a fool. Why should you die before your time? It is good that you grasp one thing and also not let go of the other; for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them. Wisdom strengthens a wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city. Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins. Also, do not take seriously all words which are spoken, so that you will not hear your servant cursing you. For you also have realized that you likewise have many times cursed others.
The New American Standard breaks down this passage into two paragraphs, two main ideas. Both have to do with correcting a naive and overconfident application of God’s wisdom. Here’s the main idea: in Ecclesiastes 7:15-22, Solomon gives two humbling exhortations to help you keep calm and carry on well in a fallen world. Let’s look at the first in verses 15-18, which is to avoid proud extremes.
This is the more difficult exhortation so we will spend most of our time here. In Ecclesiastes 7:15, Solomon says:
I have seen everything during my lifetime of futility; there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his wickedness.
Many times in Ecclesiastes, Solomon opens an exhortation with a startling personal observation of life. He says he has seen everything during his lifetime of futility. He has not literally seen everything, but every kind of thing. He says this is during his lifetime of futility, which we know means vapor, breath, or vanity. He is not saying that his life was meaningless or worthless, but that even his otherwise long and accomplished life is like everything in this world, even the life f a humble peasant. It is a vapor, lacking substance, passing quickly, too difficult to fully understand.
Now Solomon wants to bring to our attention two details that he observes during his quickly passing life. These include seeing a righteous man die in his righteousness and a wicked man lengthen his life in his wickedness. Now note that the Old Testament primarily uses the terms of righteousness and wickedness to refer to characteristic behavior, not simply salvation standing before God. The New Testament talks about justification that righteousness is imputed to us and not really because we have lived that way. Whereas the Old Testament often uses these terms to talk about actually behavior.
So when Solomon says that he has seen a righteous man die in his righteousness, it means he has seen good and just men die young. He has also seen evil and corrupt men live long and prosper. Does that seem right to us and the way the world should work? If we have any sense of true justice in our hearts, then we should be crying out that this should not be the way it is. Good men should receive blessing and bad men should be cursed. Indeed, this is what we would expect will happen in life. If you do good and act wisely, then you can expect reward and a good outcome. But if you do evil and act foolishly, you can expect painful consequences and judgment.
There is Biblical warrant for this kind of thinking, which theologians refer to as retribution theology. You will reap what you will sow. An example is in Deuteronomy 4:40, where Moses said to Israel:
So you shall keep His statutes and His commandments which I am giving you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may live long on the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time.
In other words, you want to be blessed with earthly rewards? Keep the commands of God! Now we go to Proverbs 10:27 which says:
The fear of the Lord prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be shortened.
The length of your life will depend on whether you live in the fear of God or not. We can also go to Psalm 1 many other passages which support these two pathways and retribution theology. We can point to Biblical persons and the examples in their lives. Look at Abraham, David, and Solomon. These men followed God and were blessed. On the flip side, look at Balaam, Saul, and Jezebel. These people didn’t follow God, turned from Him, and were cursed.
Now Solomon tells ash ere in Ecclesiastes that this is all true but he has seen that life doesn’t always work this way. Sometimes the righteous are the ones that experience ruin and death and the wicked are the ones that experience life and prosperity. Is that true? Is Solomon right? He is, and it’s plainly evident from the Bible that we can look at people who had exactly these things that Solomon is describing happen to them.
Let’s go back to the beginning and look at Cain and Abel. Abel was the righteous one and Cain was the wicked one, but Abel died young while his murderer, Cain, lived long, got married, and had kids. Or how about Uriah the Hittite? He was a righteous man, and a faithful friend and warrior of David. How did Uriah’s life turn out? David betrayed him, stole his wife Bathsheba, and killed him by the hand of foreign enemies.
Just look at the Old Testament prophets who were faithful spokesmen of God and did might miracles in His Name. They were just trying to get their people, their brethren to go back to God. And for this they were scorned and in constant danger of death and they were often killed by wicked kings who lived in luxury. And that’s not even adding the New Testament examples, where we could look at Stephen, James, all the apostles, and the Lord Himself. Righteousness doesn’t always lead to earthly blessings and wickedness doesn’t always lead to earthly curses.
But how can this be? The problem of why the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper is raised throughout the Old Testament. Jeremiah 12:1 says:
Righteous are You, O LORD, that I would plead my case with You; indeed I would discuss matters of justice with You: why has the way of the wicked prospered? Why are all those who deal in treachery at ease?
Now go to Habakkuk 1:13 which says:
Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You can not look on wickedness with favor. Why do You look with favor on those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they?
We can also look at Job 21, Psalm 10, Psalm 73 where there are different righteous persons grappling with this reality before God. Such indeed is the case in life, even today. The righteous sometimes suffer and the wicked sometimes prosper. If this is the case, then is God really just? Why would a righteous and good God ordain this outcome that seems totally unjust.
God doesn’t give us the full answer in the Bible but He does remind us in various places, as He does for these people who brought the question before Him: “Children, I don’t owe you an explanation. I have the right to act as I see fit. Know that I am always doing what is right, wise, and good. For you, for Myself and my glory. You will see it in the end, but for now you must humble yourself and trust Me.”
Still though, there is the question of whether wisdom right now is worth it. If the righteous can still die and the wicked can still prosper, is the way of following God’s wisdom still worth it? To keep us from responding wrongly in either of two extreme ways we have Ecclesiastes 7:16-17 here which at first glance seem to be incredibly problematic. They seem to be Solomon advocating a life a little bit of righteousness and a little bit of wickedness too. But on closer examination we’ll see that this is not the case. Look at Ecclesiastes 7:16:
Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself? Do not be excessively wicked and do not be a fool. Why should you die before your time?
Note that the first two phrases in this verse are parallel and have nearly the same meaning. To be excessively righteous is to be overly wise. What does that mean? It doesn’t mean to be righteous in the sense of conforming to God’s character. After all God commanded Israel in Leviticus 19:2:
Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.’
Has anyone of us reached God’s standard of righteousness or exceeded Him in His godliness? Certainly not! Yet those who love the Lord Jesus will continue to seek to be more like Him. So though none of us can actually ache an excess of righteousness, there is a sense that we can seek to be more righteous even than God. How so? By exalting a standard which God never actually commanded. And this is one of the problems we see in the Bible, especially with the Pharisees.
God commanded Israel to do certain things and the Pharisees added a whole bunch of other rules to it and said that this is the new way to be righteous. God commanded Israel not to work on the Sabbath but the Pharisees added many new Sabbath prohibitions. Even though God didn’t say it, this is what the really righteous people do. What’s behind this penchant for adding extra righteous rules and even man’s wisdom to God’s prescribed way?
Not just a prideful design to earn salvation and good works, but also the belief that you can have the life of perfect blessing now if you’re good enough. This is the first proud, extreme way that can respond to the fact that the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper. We can double down on righteousness and insist that the reason why it didn’t work out for the other folks is because they are not righteous. This is the approach Job’s friends took with him. Eliphaz says to Job in Job 4:7-8:
Remember now, who ever perished being innocent Or where were the upright destroyed? According to what I have seen, those who plow iniquity and those who sow trouble harvest it.
In other words they are saying to Job, “If bad things happen to you, it’s just proof that you aren’t righteous enough. Repent, truly seek God the way that we do and everything will work out.” Don’t we hear the same kind of talk today? God didn’t answer your prayer for that good thing? It’s because you didn’t have enough faith or righteousness. Your kids didn’t grow up to be Christian? It’s because you weren’t strict enough in raising them and let them get too close to the world. You’re not experiencing blessing and prosperity, it’s because you only have a basic righteousness. If you can become super righteous like us, then your life will be perfect and God will have to give you everything you want.
Consider how many best-selling religious books, so-called Christian books, there are. They offer some version of: follow this wise way and you will get guaranteed results. Here’s how to have a successful and growing church, here’s how to have a great marriage, here’s how to raise godly kids, here’s how to make a lot of money, here’s how to write your ticket with God. The authors claim that stye figured out the secret and have discovered the way to the good life that could be yours for just five easy payments of $19.99.
Perhaps we say that this is ridiculous but let’s be honest, there is the temptation in all of us to believe that if we are good enough and learn enough and are wise enough, God will owe us and have to give us what we want because we earned it! If we do the proper works and rituals, if we punch in the proper formula and go above and beyond, we will be in control and really not God. God will have to do what we want.
But what actually is the outcome of pursuing this kind of mastery over life by super wisdom and super righteousness? According to Solomon, it’s not bliss, prosperity, security, but ruin. Solomon asks why should you arrogantly pursue righteousness and wisdom and ruin yourself? Why does pursuing super righteousness result in ruin? Solomon doesn’t tell us he just leaves us to think about it. So let’s think about it! Why does pursuing excessive righteousness and wisdom result in ruin? I’ll give you a few moments.
I think it’s something worthy to continue thinking about but I’ll offer a few ways that come to my mind where pursuing righteousness results in ruin. It results in increasingly desperate and unhealthy ways to obtain control over God and life. If one thing doesn’t work, you need to do something more extreme. It results in greater alienation from those around you that do not subscribe to the same way and people feel that they don’t have time for you anymore. It just isolates yourself from other people more and more.
It results in the ascetic rejection of more and more good gifts that God has given us to enjoy in this life. We think we don’t have time to enjoy that and rest. We are working on our super righteousness and haven’t done enough, all so that we can be holy.We become increasing ascetics but perhaps the most serious of all is that when super righteousness inevitably fails to give you your desired outcome, it results in disillusionment and even apostasy from God.
Have you ever heard someone say that they’ve tried Christianity and it didn’t work? They say they followed the Bible and it didn’t save their marriage. They prayed and God didn’t give them what they prayed for. They say they were good little christians and did every thing God required and more, but then God took away the life of a spouse. They say they were involved in an accident and paralyzed from the waist down and had a cild with a severe birth defect. They say they are done with God because Christianity doesn’t work.
When such a one departs in this way, not only will his life be filled with bitterness and misery, but his soul will perish forever in hell. There’s no life outside of God or Christ. If you leave Him, where else will you go? All of this is a tragic misunderstanding of how practical righteousness and wisdom actually work. Doing what’s right and following God’s wisdom does tend to result in blessing, even now on the earth. Wisdom therefore is very valuable and is worth seeking, but it is not a guarantee of experiencing earthly good, ultimately in your life and in particular situations.
God may have His reasons for causing you to suffer even when you do everything right. Now hearing this someone may turn to the opposite conclusion of what I just discussed. Righteousness and wisdom can’t guarantee ease and blessing, then why not just live as we want and give ourselves over to sin? Maybe we can find security and fulfillment in scheming and wickedness. If righteousness can’t do it for me, maybe wickedness can.
Solomon heads off the second proud and extreme reaction in Ecclesiastes 7:17:
Do not be excessively wicked and do not be a fool. Why should you die before your time?
You can see that the form of this verse is very much like the one before with two parallel statements and then a reason supplied in the form of a question. Note as before that to be excessively wicked is tantamount to living and acting as a fool, otherwise translated as a stupid one. Why does Solomon say not to be excessively wicked? Shouldn’t he just say not to be wicked at all. Well if he did, then Solomon is saying that we can and should aim to be perfectly righteous. It’s like saying not to be wicked ever, even though none of us can keep that advice. Solomon just told us this in verse 16 and he will again in 20.
There is, though, a way of living that consists of continual proud, high-handed, unrepentant sin. This is the way that Solomon deems excessive wickedness and also calls it folly. He says not to do this, not to go in this direction. Notice at the end of verse 17 not to die before our time. This should provide a little bit of conflict if we have a good understanding of God’s sovereignty. If God is sovereign in all times and all circumstances are in his hand then really it is not possible for me to die before the appointed time. Even if I wickedly, I am in God’s control and will die exactly when He says.
Some could even use this as a justification for pursuing sin and folly. It doesn’t matter and I can live any old way I want because I’m not going to die before God says I will. So what’s the big deal? But while in one sense it is true that we cannot alter our decreed end, it is also true that those who persist in high-handed and unrepentant sin tend to die early. That is they die before they reach the normally expected lifespan of a person. We often say that a person might die before their time.
Why is this? Is it due to God’s judgment or the natural consequences of sin? The Biblical answer is yes. The arrogant pursuit of sin tends to bring natural consequences of pain and destruction and also provoke the judgment of God. Examples of this kind of sinful living are found in Proverbs where it links robbery and murder with an early death and destroyed life. Also adultery and laziness are linked with death. You want to die early? Just let yourself do any of those things. But I’m sure those aren’t the only sins. Really any unrepentant sin, even if it is secret or considered respectable by some. These sins provoke God’s judgment, they have deadly consequences and they could result in your actual death even as a Christian.
You say oh no, God would never do that. Look in the New Testament in Acts 5 with Ananias and Sapphira, two Christians who didn’t take the Lord’s Supper seriously. In Revelation 2 and 3 there were people with unrepentant immorality in the church of God. Jesus threatened them all with death and actually took out some of them. So Solomon asks us why continue in high-handed sin when such a probably fate hangs over you? It’s true, some people seemingly and temporarily get away with sin. They die and never see the big consequences of their sin. It’s true that happens. But many don’t have this outcome and probably most don’t. Most wicked people are destroyed early.
Certainly none will get away with their sin in the final judgment so the question is why would you choose to live foolishly, provoke God with your sin, and die before your time. The proper course of life, Solomon says, is to avoid these proud extremes as he begins to describe in Ecclesiastes 7:18. He says:
It is good that you grasp one thing and also not let go of the other; for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them.
If you really want what’s good, Solomon says to follow the truths that I just spoke to you. Don’t treat the wisdom like it’s the way to mastery and control of life, but also don’t treat wisdom like it’s useless and no better than folly. Wisdom and righteousness are not guarantees to earthly prosperity but they are the best way to live life and tend to result in great blessing. If you act rightly and do not reap an immediate reward, do not get angry or despair. Also do not idolize the blessings and treasures of the earth. Solomon has already dealt with that problem. Remember, wisdom has its limits and God is doing something that you do not fully understand. But you will understand it later when you see Him.
Regardless of whatever injustices you experience now, and some of them are very hard, remember God will set those right in His Kingdom and there will be a reward and vindication in the world to come. But above all remember that God is God and you are not. If you want to be content and have peace in your heart, let Him do what He has the right to do. Fear God, keep calm, and carry on.
So we have seen the first humbling exhortation from Solomon which is to avoid proud extremes. Let’s look at the second humbling exhortation in verses 19-22, which is to remember common weakness. Look at Ecclesiastes 7:19:
Wisdom strengthens a wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city.
Here’s another assertion of the great benefit of wisdom. Wisdom gives to the one who possesses her great strength to do what is right, overcome obstacles, endure trials, etc. Solomon says the power of wisdom is greater than even 10 city rulers. Ten is often a number in the Bible used to show completeness, like in the Ten Commandments, ten plagues on Egypt, etc. But even a large and complete group of ten leading men in the city with all their wealth and influence do not have as much power as one man or one woman who has wisdom.
We have this saying in English that knowledge is power. Solomon agrees that those who have God’s knowledge on how to live wisely also have power. Look at all the possibilities of wisdom. But if we get too excited, look at Ecclesiastes 7:20:
Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.
What does this have to do with the previous verse? There’s a transition word which says indeed, or can be translated from Hebrew as still or but. Though the statement of verse 19 is true, there is a contrasting thought you need to keep in mind: that no one is perfect. Even the righteous, people who are marked by good and just behavior, still sin. They are not perfectly good all the time. This is a statement of total depravity as Romans 3:10 and 3:23 say that no one on the earth is perfectly good. Everyone falls short of the glory of God which is why we need a Savior.
But keeping along with what Solomon is teaching us, let’s frame the statement of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 7:20 in terms of wisdom. Solomon had already showed us that righteousness and wisdom are linked, as we saw earlier. What does verse 20 have to say in terms of wisdom? The answer is that even the wise are not wise all the time, they still sin and act in ignorance and make foolish choices. Solomon already prepared us for this statement in Ecclesiastes 7:7:
For oppression makes a wise man mad, and a bribe corrupts the heart.
Wise people are not perfect because even though they have wisdom, they don’t use it all the time. Who is included in this, you? Me? Our brethren and neighbors? We have a certain degree of wisdom in Christ but we are not wise and perfect all the time. Even though wisdom gives great strength, we all fail to act in the power of wisdom at times. God offers us the strength of wisdom but we say no and think we have a better way. We proceed forward instead in foolish weakness and we harm ourselves and others.
So how should this admission of common weakness affect us? Well fundamentally, it should humble us along with so many other things we have seen in Ecclesiastes. Remembering your common weakness should humble you and should cause you to be more patient with others who are beset with the same weakness. In verse Ecclesiastes 7:21-22, Solomon provides an example and an application regarding humanity’s common weakness. It says:
Also, do not take seriously all words which are spoken, so that you will not hear your servant cursing you. For you also have realized that you likewise have many times cursed others.
Solomon describes a situation here that is very common to life, that is where one person badmouths another. We see the word cursing here which is a true translation with the Hebrew verb. But understand that the word need not refer to actual formal cursing. I doubt that’s what we’re thinking anytime we badmouth a person, for God to curse the person. The literal meaning of this verb is to designate as too lightweight. It’s just to speak about somebody in a contemptible way as if they had no importance. It’s to speak disrespectfully and badmouth someone. Is there anyone in this room that has never spoken this way before?
Verse 22 is pretty emphatic that we have many times treated other people lightly. We’ve spoken about them in a contemptible way. Solomon is showing us that no one walks in perfect wisdom. We’ve all spoken badly of others when we should not have and it wasn’t justified to do so. This fact should change how you view others when they badmouth you. Solomon says not to take it too seriously and let it get to you. Understand that no matter who you are or how good you are, people will still complain about you and wish bad on you. It’s not necessarily because you did anything wrong, but because people walk in pride and foolishness.
We have done the same things ourselves and have complained about people when they didn’t deserve it. We may have been angry and wanted to air out our grievances. Don’t take it too seriously and get outraged and vindictive and start plotting how to get back to a person for speaking a certain way about you. Certain heinous and ongoing sins ned to be confronted in love. But you can’t chase down every errant word. A lot of times you’re just going to have to overlook some of the things that people say and let it go.
But remember too, sometimes people’s negative words about you have some basis. I’m not saying that complaining or gossip is justified before God, those are sins. But when you hear people say this or that bad thing about you, you need to be wiling to admit at times that they’re right. Maybe you really did mishandle a situation or need to change or grow in an area. I think some of us are so afraid of hearing complaints or criticism. I sympathize because I feel like I used to be one of those people.
We naturally want to believe that we are doing everything rightly and that everyone approves. We also secretly fear that we are not doing everything rightly and that people area actually talking bad about us behind our backs. Just like Solomon describes here at the end of Ecclesiastes 7:21, we can fall into the habit of eavesdropping in on conversations about us. We also over analyze the words of others and see if there is a criticism about us. We do this because we hope we can confirm a positive view of ourselves but we’re also sure at the same time that if we cannot, then we can’t go on.
“Oh if I really did make a great mistake then I’m ruined!” But if we’re thinking this way, it is to set ourselves up for great disappointment and actual ruin because the truth is that you’re going to make mistakes, even new Christians that have the wisdom of God. That is not to excuse or justify them but just to be real. We love our Lord and yet like Peter we can sometimes deny our Lord. We’re going to sin and act foolishly at times. In response some people are going to bad mouth us for it. But you know what, it’s okay! You’ll survive! All of us are imperfect so don’t set up a standard for yourself that you can’t reach that will only demoralize you.
Accept that you’re going to be imperfect and be willing to learn from your mistakes and set relationships right. Be willing to follow through with fruits of repentance when you release you have done wrong. But more importantly you need to trust in the God who is bigger than your failures and who is able to take care of you despite your mistakes. The fear is that if we act foolishly one time, that’s it for us. God is a good Father and He knows how to take care of His children. He will discipline as we need but He’s bigger than our sins, folly, and mistakes.
So then in a surprising way we are leaning here in the second part of our passage that one of the most important steps on the narrow path of wisdom is the realization that people, ourselves included, are not wise all the time. If you want to be wise, realize that you’re not always going to act in wisdom. That will help you. Along with avoiding proud extremes, let’s remember our second point so that we are not inordinately shaken by our failures or the failures of others. Do not get angry or despair. Fear God, keep calm and carry on.
Solomon has shown us once again today that by the Spirit of God we can have the happiest, wisest, most blessed path of life in a fallen world. But you won’t be able to take this way, nor would it really matter if you did, if you didn’t also embrace a greater wisdom, the wisdom of the gospel – the salvation message of the One who is wisdom incarnate, Jesus Christ. This wisdom that I have been talking about is good but it’s limited in what it can do you for right now.
It cannot deliver you from death or the wrath of God that is due your sin because let’s face it, there is a holy penalty for our folly and imperfection. Even every careless word that we speak is considered. You might ask why God would even care about a little bit of gossip or mean thing that you say. Jesus says explicitly in the New Testament that if you get angry with someone and call him a name, like “empty head,” the penalty is eternal fire under the wrath of God in hell. That’s the just penalty and He says you will be judged for every careless word that you have spoken. By your words you will be acquitted and condemned.
Even though we know how to be wise and not take things too seriously, we still have to deal with the fact that our words condemn us. that’s why the wisdom of the gospel is even more necessary for you than God’s wisdom on how to live life. God make a way to escape the wrath that is due your sin and it is Jesus Christ – His perfect life, death, and resurrection and you turning from your sin and foolish ways. Turn from exalting yourself and living your own way to turning to God and whatever He wants. Want the salvation that God only offers in Jesus and give up the treasures of the world and insistence that you must be blessed now.
If you do that, then not only can you learn and know how to live wisely now but also forever. This life is passing by quickly because it is a vaporous life. How many more days do you have? We do not know the answer. It’s good for you to learn how to live wisely now but it is more important for you to learn how to live wisely for eternity. The Scriptures say that now is the day of salvation. Don’t say okay and that you will think about it later. You might not have a later. Come now and find the way of blessing now and life forever in Jesus Christ.
Let’s close in prayer. Lord, Your wisdom is very great and we thank You for the book of Ecclesiastes and the words of Solomon. He tells us what we need to hear. Indeed as we saw last time rebuke is better than revelry. Some of these truths are not ones we like and they make us uncomfortable. They humble us but it’s for our good. Lord, it is difficult when we don’t see justice administered the way we would expect for this life. Why is it that the good sometimes suffer and the bad sometimes prosper? But You know what You’re doing and You have a perfect purpose in each moment.
I think Lord for a dear person here today who may be going through se very difficult suffering and they don’t know why. It’s not because of sin in their life but you know the reason. You’re accomplishing a good purpose in it.
So God, I pray for them and all of us so that we would remain in the fear of You so that we are not destabilized so that our peace, contentment, and our hope may remain intact. God You do all things well and You show us that in the end. But in the meantime we will humble ourselves before You and trust You. That is the way of blessing. Thank You for showing us that way. Enable us by Your Spirit to follow it and not stray from it.
Thank You God for whatever happens in this life there is life in the world to come that is sure. There is no uncertainty or mystery here. If there is any who do not yet know that reality, I pray they would repent and believe in You by Your Spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.