Remembering Good in Difficult Times
Sermon Text: Ecclesiastes 6:10-7:14
Sermon Theme: In the days of adversity, let us consider the work of God and the good that remains.
- Remembering that death brings clarity (vv. 7:1-4)
- Remembering that wisdom offers correction (vv. 7:5-12)
- Remembering God is in control of it all (vv. 7:13-14)
A little will serve to sustain us comfortably, and a great deal can do no more; since God means us to make the best of the capacities He has given us and the opportunities He sends us. The desires of the soul find nothing in the wealth of the world to give satisfaction. The poor man has comfort as well as the richest, and is under no real disadvantage. We cannot say, Better is the sight of the eyes than the resting of the soul in God; for it is better to live by faith in things to come, than to live by sense, which dwells only upon present things. Our lot is appointed. We have what pleases God, and let that please us. The greatest possessions and honors cannot set us above the common events of human life. Seeing that the things men pursue on earth increase vanities, what is man the better for his worldly devices? Our life upon earth is to be reckoned by days. It is fleeting and uncertain, and with little in it to be fond of, or to be depended on. That is best for us which is best for our souls, though it be unpleasing to sense. It is better to have our corruptions mortified by the rebuke of the wise, than to have them gratified by the song of fools. The laughter of a fool is soon gone, the end of his mirth is heaviness. Let us return to God, trust in his mercy through Jesus Christ, and submit to his will. Then soon shall we glide through this vexatious world, and find ourselves in that happy place, where there is fullness of joy and pleasures for evermore.
- Are you seeking the wealth and pleasure in this world rather than a reputation for piety and honesty?
- Does your “name” reflect a good or wrong character associated with your local church body? Long for a good character; a godly mind and life; not mere reputation with man, but what a man is in the eyes of God, with whom the name and reality are one thing.
- Do you vindicate your own occasional errors by citing the errors of those who give greater heed to religion than they do, or make a louder profession of it?
- Are you willing to forfeit popularity in a hope against customary wrongs, and thank God that no such thing consumes you?
- Are you often using pleasure to shut out thoughts of God and eternity? Do you think of your own “end” as if it was to happen tomorrow? the next week? the next year? (Psalms 90:12)
- Are attitudes being shaped by an attraction to that which, like a rebuke, takes us toward a harsh reality or to pleasures in anything that desensitizes us by means of distraction or escape?
- Are you one who’s reckless mirth turns into bitter anger and your heart at times grows hot at the mere sound of reproof? “Whoever loves correction loves knowledge; but the one who hates reproof is stupid” (Proverbs 12:1, see also Proverbs 13:1, 13:18; 17:10).
- Are you allowing Godly reproof to offend the flesh, but benefits the spirit? For a fools’ songs in the house of mirth please the flesh but injure the soul (Psalms 141:4-5).
- Can a wise person become a fool by surrendering control of life to another when he lets anger clouds one’s judgment? The individual does not always have all the data necessary to make a just and wise decision. Good decisions are not made in the heat of anger.
- Can a wise person be made a fool when money becomes involved? “Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice” (Proverbs 16:8).
- Will the life of faith survive hard and troublesome times when the “good old days” have gone and the “days of adversity” come?
- Is it better to keep quiet before God than criticize His divine plan? For it is folly to cry out upon the badness of our times, when we have more reason to cry out for the badness of our own hearts. (Proverbs 16:5).
- Do you see even the need for bruising in this life, by reason of the remainder of pride in our nature and to let us see that we live by God’s mercy?
- Is longing for the past and dissatisfaction with the present symptoms of impatience and pride? For one cannot face the difficulties of one age by pining for another.
- Are you learning from your past and look forward to the future but only living in the present?
- Could the traditions of the past, however valuable, be a dead weight?
- Do we have a distrust in the providence of God? Are we not safe when left in His hands? Do we call in question God’s ways in making former days better than our present, as Job did (Job 29:2-5)?
- Is the work of God so totally different that humans cannot understand or affect it?
- Is it hard, so hard as to be impossible, for you to know “what is good” for you to have? That on which you have set your heart may prove to be an evil rather than a good when at last you get it. The fair fruit, so pleasant and desirable to the eye that, to possess it, you were content to labor and deny yourself for years, may turn to an apple of Sodom in your mouth, and yield you, in place of sweet pulp and juice, only the bitter ashes of disappointment.
- Should we enjoy ourselves on a good day, while making the best of a bad day? God made both, and no one can change what God has done.
CROOKEDNESS CAUSED BY PERSONAL MORAL DECISION (By Didymus the Blind):
God does not make crooked by causing destruction but by showing that someone is crooked.… It is written, “Those who turn to crooked ways, the Lord will lead away together with those who have committed injustice.” (Psalms 125:5). It is not God himself who leads them away against their will together with those who have committed injustice, but he has shown that those who turn from the way after their own moral decision are such people.
From the “Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture” (29 Vols)
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