This weekly topic is an effort to recap the Wednesday night Bible study I teach at Sola5, my youth group. I hope it serves to help us all in contemplating the ceaseless riches of God’s grace as revealed through the Scriptures.
In chapter 10 of Ecclesiastes, the book shifts in its structure from the prose of most of the first 9 chapters into short proverbs, very reminiscent of the bulk of the book of Proverbs. Having spent the book laying out the vanity of life apart from God and the supremacy of God in all things, Solomon now starts to give quick bites of wisdom describing what a wise life or a foolish life looks like (and remember – God is the source of wisdom, and thus foolishness is by definition a rejection of God). Wednesday night, we looked at the proverbs at chapter 10 and examined eight “quick hits” of wisdom to apply to our Christian walk and worldview.
First, in verses 1-3, we looked at the poison of sin. Solomon uses the imagery of dead flies in fine perfume to demonstrate how a small bit of foolishness or sin can render an otherwise wise life futile. Imagine that you are drinking a bottle of Coke, and I take it and spit in it. I would guess that you wouldn’t keep on drinking it. Why not? It’s just a little bit of spit, right? The bottle is still probably around 98% Coke. That wouldn’t matter to you, though. A small bit is enough to make the whole thing repulsive. In a similar way, a small bit of sin in our lives can destroy the rest of our testimony. Thus, we should be constantly on our guard.
Secondly, in verses 4-11, we looked at the danger of pride. These verses contain many warnings against pride, from Solomon’s observation that those in places of prominence and recognition aren’t always deserving of it (verses 5-7), to warnings that one’s own accomplishments can often cause harm (verses 8-11). We should make sure that we’re trusting in God and keeping our pride in check. Thirdly, in verses 12-14, we examined the power of words, both to do good and to do evil. Our words, whether spoken, written, or Tweeted, carry the potential to build others up or to be empty, wasting time at best and tearing down at worst. Think carefully about the things you say. In verse 15, we looked at the importance of focus. Solomon points out the futility of working and sweating to reach a destination when you don’t know how to get there in the first place. All the effort and ability in the world is wasted when it doesn’t have a purpose in view. What are you chasing in life? What is important to you? Put Christ in your sights and follow him, ensuring that your life’s efforts won’t end up a bridge to nowhere.
Fifth, in verses 16-17, we see the value of sobriety. A byproduct of the proper focus, sobriety is the ability to control one’s self and think clearly about what is important. We need to understand the importance of our time and use it wisely. After all, if Solomon asserts here the importance of wisdom and sobriety for those who rule nations, how much more vital is it for we who are ambassadors for Christ? Sixth, in verse 18, we see the need of work. There is no such thing as an armchair Christian. Our faith demands action, and we need to be willing to do the work it takes to know God (primarily through his word) and the work that knowledge demands of us. In verse 19, we see the gift of blessings. In a book where Solomon has constantly belittled earthly wealth as meaningless, it is a good counterbalance here to see him speaking of the value that material things can have. God created all things good, and every good gift we have comes from him. When we stop seeing our things as our things and start seeing them as gifts from God, we’ll start enjoying them and using them in an entirely different way and avoid the trap that they can so easily become. Finally, in verse 20, we looked at the destruction of hate. We all know murder is wrong, but often times we feel that harboring anger or resentment in our hearts is harmless. Jesus made it pretty clear that’s not the case, but Solomon warns against it as well. Nothing will destroy your relationships with God and others faster than harboring bitterness and hatred against other people.
My encouragement to the believers in our group was to reread the chapter and this list before going to bed Wednesday and to pinpoint one of the eight things that needs the most attention in their lives. What about you? Which of these lessons of wisdom do you need to learn or re-learn? Seek God’s wisdom, and avoid a wasted life.
Weekend A La Carte (August 19)
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