Use Wisdom (Part 2)
Sermon Text: Ecclesiastes 10:1-20
Sermon Theme: Since a little folly can ruin so much that is good, ensure you get and use wisdom in all areas of life.
Those especially who make a profession of religion, should keep from all appearances of evil. A wise man has great advantage over a fool, who shows their folly wherever they go. Solomon appears to caution men not to seek redress in a hasty manner, nor to yield to pride and revenge… We must find the way to keep him gentle. But by rash, unprincipled, or slanderous talk, he brings open or secret vengeance upon himself. Would we duly consider our own ignorance as to future events, it would cut off many idle words which we foolishly multiply. Fools toil a great deal to no purpose. They do not understand the plainest things, such as the entrance into a great city. But it is the excellency of the way to the heavenly city, that it is a highway, in which the simplest wayfaring men shall not err, Isaiah 35:8. But sinful folly makes men miss that only way to happiness.
The happiness of a land depends on the character of its rulers. The people cannot be happy when their princes are childish, and lovers of pleasure. Slothfulness is of ill consequence both to private and public affairs. Money, of itself, will neither feed nor clothe, though it answers the occasions of this present life, as what is to be had, may generally be had for money. But the soul, as it is not redeemed, so it is not maintained with corruptible things, as silver and gold. God sees what men do, and hears what they say in secret; and, when he pleases, brings it to light by strange and unsuspected ways. If there be hazard in secret thoughts and whispers against earthly rulers, what must be the peril from every deed, word, or thought of rebellion against the King of kings, and Lord of lords! He seeth in secret. His ear is ever open. Sinner! curse not this King in thy inmost thought. Your curses cannot affect Him; but his curse, coming down upon you, will sink you to the lowest hell.
(From “Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible”)
- Are you taking great care to avoid even a little folly which can do great damage to one’s reputation? For wisdom and glory are wonderful and highly valued, but it just takes a touch of folly to spoil them. For a foolish life comes incrementally—it does not happen overnight.
- Do we sometimes downplay the significance of “little tasks?” Can these “little tasks” determine the course of a person’s life? Is it sometimes the small and obscure activities that make or break people?
- Do we reach out to our Father in heaven to help us never to despise any of the responsibilities He entrust to us, no matter how “small and insignificant” they may seem?
- Your actions show your true character. What does your walk say about you? For foolishness is a problem that does not stay in the deep recesses of the heart. What is imbedded in the heart must come out. The fool will demonstrate by his behavior that he does not value wisdom.
- Does cursing those over you sometimes come from a heart of covetousness? Is it money, ease of life, job, power, control, etc?
- Should we always avoid certain false statements which may be labeled as “white lies?” Are one of these “peccadilloes” able to destroy trust and forever change the confidence we placed in another person? Do these “white lies” exact a heavy toll?
- Do we habitually need to do the right things in order to be spiritually ready for whatever may come our way? Do you consistently avail yourself of such things as private prayer, meditation on Scripture, and worship (individual and corporate)?
- The failure of the slothful life is seen here: bread, wine; money is the limit of its horizon. This challenges us to remain calm in days of national sloth, immaturity and indulgence, and calls for a submissive approach to authority, giving an expedient reason for obedience. Are you facing life as it really is and taking your life day by day from the hand of a sovereign God?
- Do we tend to speak rashly (Proverbs 12:18) and to say too much? Both can have disastrous consequences. It is better to hold one’s tongue and wait for the best time to speak. A wise person knows when to be quiet (Ecclesiastes 3:7; James 1:19-20). Wise words are said to be gracious; the Hebrew says they are ‘grace,’ embodying all that is gracious or kindly (Psalms 45:2; Proverbs 22:11): appropriate (Proverbs 15:23; 25:11), helpful (Ephesians 4:29; Colossians. 3:8), likeable (Proverbs 25:12, 15).
- Do the so-called “private” areas of your life match the “public” areas? The modern notion that private morals don’t affect public life finds no support in Scripture. For it is the heart that directs a person. The heart is not only the reason at work in arriving at a decision but also the will and direction one takes. You only have one heart which is both public and private.
- Do you agree with the psalmist that a deep knowledge of God’s Word is not a function of intellect or one’s vocation—rather, it demonstrates that a person loves God (see Psalms 1; 119)?
- Are too many Christians settling for superficially learning God’s Word and having unwholesome speech? Jonathan Edwards’s reminder that only those who grow in the knowledge of God’s Word have the capacity to edify others with their speech. May we be people who edify and encourage others with an expanding knowledge of our great and inexhaustible God!
- An important insight for us driven Americans is that the sin of laziness or neglect is not necessarily inconsistent with workaholism. This may sound contradictory, but it isn’t. For example, a person may avoid certain responsibilities by giving too much attention to other matters. A neglectful husband may work eighty hours a week at a respectable job but fail to do the most basic of duties at home. If “the rafters sag,” he is the classic hardworking but neglectful executive.
- If “sharpening the saw” makes it easier for tasks to be accomplished with greater effectiveness, why do so many of us neglect adequate preparation?
- Do we remember that we must all appear before the judgment seat of God to render an account of our actions and speech whether wise or foolish? If love is to be the animating motive of our life, we need to remember that God is always with us, observing what we do—not that He may spy upon us and accumulate heavy charges against us, but that He may help us to do well; not to frown upon our pleasures, but to hallow, deepen, and prolong them, and to be Himself our Chief Good and our Supreme Delight.
- Does a conflict arises within us between the high sense of justice and the proper reverence due to an immature and foolish authority? Are we allowing prudence to guide us as a wise people; learning to govern our passions, and by a calm demeanor tame the fury which threatened us? For the fool lacks discretion in such trying situations. He is stubborn and unyielding; and for want of self-government, his passion breaks forth to his own injury. He has not the wisdom to wait and be calm, nor the faith to believe in the triumph of the meek.
- Should we pause to reflect on God’s ways, such that wisdom is heightened in its worth by a contrast with the thoughts, the words and actions of a fool?
The following is from “Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture” 29 Vols:
BANISH THE DEVIL’S THOUGHTS. (By Cyril of Jerusalem): You alone are not the source of the trouble, but there is also one who instigates you, the accursed devil. He makes his suggestions to all, but he does not prevail by force over those who do not give way to him. Therefore Ecclesiastes says, “Should the anger of the ruler burst upon you, forsake not your place.” If you shut your door, you will be out of his reach and he will not harm you. But if you are so careless as to admit the lustful thought, reflection will cause it to strike roots within you; it will capture your mind and drag you down into an abyss of sins.
THE TEACHER WHO CHARMS SHOULD BE WITHOUT GUILE. (By Didymus the Blind): The snake is powerful, when it spreads its poison secretly. In the one who is tricked, an impression is created that he has received something good which in reality is not good. The teacher who charms should not do so in a superfluous way but in a way that accomplishes something. Then he shows his [student] the error, the guile of his seducer.
A TINY LEAK BECOMES A STORMY TEMPEST. (by John Cassian): No house ever falls to the ground by a sudden collapse, but only when there is some long-standing flaw in the foundation or when by long-continued neglect of its inhabitants, what was at first only a little drip breaks through and the protecting walls are gradually ruined. In consequence of long-standing neglect the gap becomes larger and the walls break away, and in time the drenching storm and rain pours in like a river. For “by slothfulness a building is brought low, and through lazy hands the house shall leak.”
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