Saturday, September 29, 2018

Saturday - Ecclesiastes 11 - Strike While the Iron is Hot

 fool waits for the perfect moment to make his investments.  A wise man invests all he can while he can and cuts his losses when he sees that things aren't working out.  At least, such is the philosophy that is espoused by Solomon in this chapter.  Notice his admonitions.  Throw your bread out there.  Give all you can.  Sow your seeds.  Harvest your crops.  Work while there is light.  Enjoy life while you are young enough to enjoy it, etc.  In other words, strike while the iron is hot!  If you wait too late, either your energy may be wasted, or the opportunity may be gone altogether.

I'm reminded of the nation of Israel and how they waited one day too late to attempt an entrance into Canaan during the days of Moses.  It cost them their lives and 40 years of progress.  Esau is also a good example.  He eventually valued his place as the eldest son, but he waited too late to see things this clearly; to set his priorities in good order.

How many people have missed heaven because they kept waiting... and waiting, for something?  Maybe they wanted all of their questions answered.  Maybe they were waiting for a better Christian example to follow.  Maybe they were waiting for that last possible moment.  Whatever the reason, waiting is unwise.  This is why Paul said in 2nd Corinthians 6:2, "Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."   Even for believers or for contemplative potential believers, the writer of Hebrews urges urgency.  Hebrews 3:13, "Exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today;’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."  Again, Hebrews 3:15, "While it is said, ‘Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.’"

There will always be things that we don't know.  There also will come a day when it will be too late for us to make any adjustments.  Our entire life will someday be examined (Ecclesiastes 11:9).  We will have to give account.  Will you or I have to give a sad report like the lazy servant Jesus spoke of in Matthew 25:25-27?  I hope and pray not.  "Too late" would be an incredibly sad epitaph for any of us.  Let us never be like the five foolish virgins who simply waited too late to do the right thing (Matthew 25:10).  Let's strike while the iron is hot.  Whatever is right to do, do it today.  Do it now.  Don’t delay.  Don’t doubt!  Obey right away.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Friday - Ecclesiastes 10 - The Power of Surrender

HE tail end of Ecclesiastes 10:4 reads like this, "...yielding pacifies great offences."  That seems obvious enough, eh?  Yet, how many of us struggle with that?  Many of us choose rather to excuse, justify, defy, deny or worse, to continue in offences instead of surrendering.  The power of surrender is, in reality, simply the power of humility.  And, if we are willing to peel back the skin and look a little deeper, we will see the real reason behind this phenomenon: "God resists the proud, but gives grace unto the humble (James 4:6).  This is the key that opens the treasure chest of God's grace?  And, it seems reasonable that surrender should the outgrowth of the combination of guilt and humility.

The strange thing that happens when we yield humbly to the pressure of correction is that we suddenly find ourselves rising victoriously.  We are able to experience a peace and prosperity by yielding, a peace which we could never achieve through rigid resistance and stubborn self-defense.  So essentially, we are wise to meekly admit our guilt when we are in the wrong, but we are foolish to attempt any method of avoidance.

Ecclesiastes 10:12-14 speaks sharply against the babbling of a fool.  Let us not dig our own grave deeper by rambling on and on with excuses, especially when what we need to say is simply that we were wrong and that we are sorry.  And, of course our apologies must be sincere, or we might as well not make them, because we will be right back in the same guilty position in short order.  Humility is first and foremost an inside disposition.  If we yield to authority outwardly and at the same time curse authority in our mind, we will eventually be found out, and a higher price will be paid than would have originally been exacted (if we had yielded genuinely in the first place – see Ecclesiastes 10:20).  We don't have to wait until our life is over to deal with our infractions or to have them dealt with.  We can get our guilt behind us in the here and now, if we are simply willing to do it (1st Corinthians 11:31).

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Thursday - Ecclesiastes 9 - Universal Randomness... or Consistency

N honest and objective view of life verifies Ecclesiastes 9:11, which reads like this, "Under the sun... the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happens to all." We all know fine folks who have a hard row to hoe, and we know worthless louses who seem to always have an easy go with things.  Is this an indication of the randomness of our existence, or of uniformity?  Well, it depends on how you look at it.  On one hand, the principles of justice are supposed to ensure that diligence is rewarded, and that apathy costs the culprit.  On the other hand, absolute justice insures that we all die (Ecclesiastes 9:3), because though some snakes are bigger and more venomous than other snakes, all snakes are still snakes.  And you know, the only good snake is a dead one.

So anyway, here Solomon addresses the universality of death, and the things we should do because of its dominance.  Essentially, he says that the things we are going to do, we must do now, while we are alive (Ecclesiastes 9:10).  The universal enemy of all men is death... and nobody can stop it.  No one can control it.  No one can destroy it.  No one can prevent it.  Delay or hasten it in some cases, yes.  But ultimately, death always prevails.  No matter how rightly or how wrongly a man has lived, he is eventually going to have to look death straight in the face.  And, it may be sooner rather than later, no matter what kind of life one leads.

This is not to say that we can't do anything under any circumstances to prolong our days.  If I get out tonight and drive my car pedal to the metal down the wet country roads around Hurlock, then I'm more likely than not going to meet my Maker this very evening.  If I continue to sit in my recliner with a blanket and a computer keyboard in my lap, perhaps I'm in a little less danger of checking out right away.  But again, death comes to all. I could very well be drawing my last breath even as I type these words.  That was what caused Solomon such pause - the universal indiscriminateness of troubles and death.  It all seemed a bit arbitrary to him.  Of course, by God's word we know that "arbitrary" is never a fair description of God's universe.  Solomon knew it too, but he couldn't help but muse about the message of the raw evidence.

One thing which we must keep in mind is that there are other conclusions (other than what is stated here) to draw from the same evidence.  Seeing the brevity of one righteous man and the longevity of one evil man (or even many such cases) does not in and of itself prove that good behavior isn't necessarily rewarded.  Remember that we are only looking at things "under the sun."  One might postulate from the same evidence that perhaps justice is best and most excellently meted out in an afterlife rather than in this life (since so many people die with what appears to us to be "unbalanced scales").  Of course, we have the advantage of reading the red letters of Luke 16:25 (and other excellent revelations), so we're at a distinct advantage.