Ecclesiastes 7 concluded with "God made man upright, but man tries many ways (to ignore God)". Man goes after materials things - the more the merrier. God wants man with a better character and a wisdom that is based on following God's ways of working. Such wisdom of God gives life, meaning and freedom from bondage. It is more precious than money.The wisdom of man and the wisdom of God can be seen clearly in this chapter. Man only wants more material things and pursue happiness. But God wants man to pursue character first, to be like Him. While man rejects and try to avoid adversities, God want man to learn from the adversities such as:
- Death is better birth: Steve Jobs say that Death is the greatest invention because in the face of death, we awake to know the true priorities of life - what are important and what are not. This allows us to live life with a purpose and not to waste time.
- Mourning is better feasting: With feasting, we just have our taste buds triggered and stomach filled. We have fun with friends but just superficially. However, when there is mourning, we feel the loss of our loved ones, whether our family members, relatives or friends. We are reminded of how they live their lives. They become a reflection for our lives. How should we live our life now and what legacies do we want to leave behind? The reality of death is most felt in the passing our beloved.
- Sorrow than laughter: Terry Guo, founder of Foxconn, said that success is a poor teacher. We don't know learn much from success. Success makes us feel proud. Sorrow however, makes our heart tender and understanding.
- Rebuke from the wise is better than praise from the fools:All of us want praises. But we must learn to know the true praise and the artificially buttering from people who just want to please us. True praises tell us to do more the right things. Rebukes, from the wise, and not from those that only want to hurt us, enables us to correct our mistakes so that we can become better. Often, mistake not corrected early will lead to big embarrassment later. Some people said that success may bring out the hidden sins in us. Consider the big embarrassments of successful and famous people. The sins that was there all the while was not corrected earlier.
- Threats turn wise to fool: Under pressure, especially threats to our lives or loved ones, will cause us to loose our perspective and make bad decisions. We are taught to be led in peace. Never be forced or pushed into making an impulsive decisions. God leads us with a little voice and with peace of heart and mind.
- Bribes corrupts: Gains, and rewards could also mislead us and cause us to loose our sense of right and wrong. Greediness is a sin that is hideous. Gains without work is also very tempting.
- Patient better than Proud: It takes greater strength to wait and be patient towards others and towards our goals. It is much easy to be proud and command things and people; to demand our rights and throw our weights. But arrogance leads us to rejection and failure.
- Be not quick to get angry: The author reminded us that quick temper is the behavior of the fool. The wise control his feeling and examine them. There is nothing wrong for being angry. It is just a signal that something is wrong. But we must examine the cause of our anger. Is it because we feel we are not given the rightful treatment and respect? If so, there is pride. Is it because there is some injustice done to others? If so, we need to investigate and even make right the injustice as Jesus did in the cleaning up of the temple hawkering.
- Do not live in the past: If the present life is more difficult than the past, then we may tend to try to go back to the good old days and neglect to do the right things now that create the better future for us. Living in memory is easier than making a meaningful future. What does God want you to do for your life?
The way of God is holding both things, wisdom and righteousness, in balance and not holding on one and letting go the other.
- Ecc 7:18 NASB It is good that you grasp one thing and also not let go of the other; for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them.
So, fear God, know His ways and following His calling for your life that you may live meaningfully without regrets at the end of this life.
Lim Liat (c) 8 Jun 2013. Revised 16 Mar 2014.
Previous: Chapter 6 The Ironies of Life and the Search
Next: Chapter 8 The Key to a Happy Life - Recognize and Obey the Authorities