Use Wisdom (Part 1)
Sermon Text: Ecclesiastes 9:13-18
Sermon Theme: Wisdom is better than authority, strength, or influence.
A man may, by his wisdom, bring to pass that which he could never do by his strength. If God be for us, who can be against us, or stand before us? Solomon observes the power of wisdom, though it may labor under outward disadvantages. How forcible are right words! But wise and good men must often content themselves with the satisfaction of having done good, or, at least, endeavored to do it, when they cannot do the good they would, nor have the praise they should. How many of the good gifts, both of nature and Providence, does one sinner destroy and make waste! He who destroys his own soul destroys much good. One sinner may draw many into his destroying ways. See who are the friends and enemies of a kingdom or a family, if one saint does much good, and one sinner destroys much good.
(From “Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible”)
- The world seems to be trending more and more to elevating fools who hold a cultural worldview and marginalize the wise who hold a biblical view. Do you see anything happening in parts of the world that is reversing this trend?
- The quiet words of a wise person are superior to the boisterous shouts of politicians who want to call attention to themselves. So why do people give more weight to a person of social status than a person of righteous character? Why isn’t a person’s character important in our worldly culture anymore?
- Do you think the growing revelations of the devastating consequences of unscrupulous leaders will lead to greater promotion of those who are truly wise? For indeed, “blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD” (Psalms 33:12).
- Do the unscrupulous surround themselves with righteous and wise people or ones like themselves?
- Is wisdom often not heeded because it conflicts with our worldview of reality? Old Testament traditional wisdom deals with reality as well as morality: “the way it is” as well as “the way things ought to be.”
- Is Jesus Christ the most despised poor wise man (Isaiah 53:2-3; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Colossians 2:3) who came as the light of the world? The world may remembered Him but not honor Him has the Lord and Savior.
- The happy consequences which the wise man’s counsel might accomplish, or has already accomplished, may be overthrown or rendered useless by the villainy or perversity of a bad man. Why does it seem that an evil act is so easy to do? Is it because our sinful nature is closely tied to the worldly culture? Is it because sin acts like a ferment—whatever comes in contact with it, it assimilates to itself? For “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41) — sin no longer reigns but does remain in the believer.
- No godly person is always in a “holy frame.” But, are you recognizing your state of mind and pressing forward seeking the steadfast hope of God’s mercy and grace?
1) The fear of God without love is no other than the fear of devils; and all that outward respect and obedience, all that resignation, that repentance and sorrow for sin, that form in religion, that outward devotion that is performed merely from such a fear without love, is all a practical lie… There is never a devil in hell but what would perform all that many a man has performed in religion, that had no love to God; and a great deal more if they were in like circumstances and the like hope gained by it, and be as much of a devil in this heart as he is now. The Devil once seemed to be religious from fear of torment, Luke 8:28 “When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.’” Here is the external worship. The devil is religious; he prays–he prays in a humble posture; he falls down before Christ, he lies prostate, he prays earnestly, he cries with a loud voice; he uses humble expressions–“I beg you, do not torment me”; he uses respectful, honorable, adoring expressions–“Jesus, Son of the Most High God.” Nothing was wanting but LOVE… Certainly if there will be no love to Him, there is no sincere regard to Him; and all pretenses and show of respect to Him, whether it be in word or deed, must be hypocrisy and have no value in the eyes of Him who sees the heart. How manifest is it that without love there can be no true honor, no sincere praise! And how can obedience be hearty, if it be not a testimony of respect to God?… Devine love, as it has God for its object, may be thus described: ‘Tis the soul’s relish of the supreme excellency of the Divine nature, inclining the heart to God as the chief good.
Jonathan Edwards (Treatise on Grace)
2) NEITHER RICHES NOR POVERTY CAN BE EVIL. (By Chrysostom): If riches and poverty are from the Lord, how can either poverty or riches be an evil? Why then were these things said? They were said under the Old Covenant, where there was much account made of wealth, where there was great contempt of poverty, where the one was a curse and the other a blessing. But now it is no longer so.
(From “Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture” 29 Vols)
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