Living in an Absurd World (Part 2)
Sermon Text: Ecclesiastes 7:15-29
Sermon Theme: How are we to live in an absurd world?
Chapter 7 continues with two reflections on wisdom. The first points out that wisdom and righteousness do not guarantee blessing, and so he advises a moderate approach to wisdom. The second indicates that no matter how much one desires wisdom, it is ultimately beyond human grasp. Finally, the section concludes with the confession that Solomon’s search yielded no major breakthroughs. He looked diligently, but all he found was a corrupt humanity seeking its own desires. For no righteous man is wholly righteous. To aim at so lofty an ideal will be to attempt “to be too strict and straitlaced, too hard on one who wants to do as well as he can”—we shall only fail if we make the attempt; we shall be grievously disappointed if we expect other men to succeed where we have failed; we shall lose faith in them, and in ourselves; we shall suffer many pangs of shame, remorse, and defeated hope and therefore, it is well at once to make up our minds that we are, and need be, no better than our neighbors (i.e. worldly culture), that we are not to blame ourselves for customary and occasional slips; that, if we are but moderate, we may lay one hand on righteousness and another on wickedness without taking much harm. A most immoral moral, though it is as popular today as it ever was. The only course Solomon can recommend is to fear God. This is the bottom line on which one can achieve the only “security” possible. Both general attitudes (fear and reverence) and detailed application (wisdom) are required if the right path between moral legalism and moral indifference is to be maintained, no matter one’s fate which is beyond our control.
- Are you meeting with unexpected difficulties and found unguarded and easily overthrown? Weigh the utmost difficulties of perseverance and be prepared for them having your mind fixed in it to go through them, let them be what they will.
- If one hears rumors and discovers a curse that has been uttered, should one look at one’s own failings? not respond foolishly; rather, one should have a generous spirit of forgiveness or, at least, of indifference to vexing reports?
- Does awareness of one’s sinfulness creates a certain forgiving indulgence toward others who harm one by cursing?
- Has not God made both (man and woman) upright, but it is they who are responsible for moral troubles? Why could Solomon not find a woman and only a single man out of a thousand? Is woman just one-tenth of one percent more sinful than man or is there really no different? For “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5). It is God’s grace alone that keeps any from falling.
A fool, he says, is one who doesn’t seek understanding but is always looking to have their opinion heard. Rather than taking joy in gaining understanding, a fool wants their opinion known by others so they can feel important. How often do we do this in our life? The wise, by contrast, take the time to understand by asking questions (not making passive-aggressive statements in the form of a question) for the purpose of learning the heart and motivation of the other person. A wise person seeks to know what brings another to their idea or action. So a marker of whether someone is wise or a fool is how they treat an idea they don’t agree with. Would you rather be a fool today, or wise? Seems pretty easy to answer. Then seek understanding. Earnestly ask follow up questions and make your aim to know the motivations and heart and worldview of those in your world today. Put special emphasis on those you disagree with. It will make you wise, no fooling!
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