Today we will read Ecclesiastes 7: 15-29:
15 In my vain life I have seen everything; there are righteous people who perish in their righteousness, and there are wicked people who prolong their life in their evildoing. 16 Do not be too righteous, and do not act too wise; why should you destroy yourself? 17 Do not be too wicked, and do not be a fool; why should you die before your time? 18 It is good that you should take hold of the one without letting go of the other, for the one who fears God shall succeed with both.
19 Wisdom gives strength to the wise more than ten rulers who are in a city.
20 Surely there is no one on earth so righteous as to do good without ever sinning.
21 Do not give heed to everything that people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you; 22 your heart knows that many times you have yourself cursed others.
23 All this I have tested by wisdom; I said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me. 24 That which is, is far off, and deep, very deep; who can find it out? 25 I turned my mind to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the sum of things and to know that wickedness is folly and that foolishness is madness. 26 I found more bitter than death the woman who is a trap, whose heart is nets, whose hands are fetters; one who pleases God escapes her, but the sinner is taken by her. 27 See, this is what I found, says the Teacher, adding one thing to another to find the sum, 28 which my mind has sought repeatedly, but I have not found. One man among a thousand I found, but a woman among all these I have not found. 29 See, this alone I found, that God made human beings straightforward, but they have devised many schemes.
My wife is a dietician. I’ve learned a lot, that I don’t always apply, about a healthy lifestyle from her through the years. I’ll never forget a conversation that we had early on in our marriage. She was telling me that when she was planning a diet for someone who may be diabetic, she would sometimes plan in some dessert, some ice cream, something like that. That sounded counterintuitive to me, shouldn’t you be trying to keep that person from having that? No, she told me, it’s better to have that thing in a small dose, controlled and balanced, than to make it the untouching thing that you can’t have, but that you’ll always desire. Better to eat it, scheduled, in balance, than to desire it and be tripped up by it to the detriment of your health.
That speaks to me so much about the importance of balance. And I think we see that same principle at work in our reading today. We see that there are folks who are righteous who die young and the wicked live long. Do not work to be so righteous you can’t connect and have relationships with people, and don’t be so wicked you destroy yourself.
Be wise. Don’t give yourself to gossip. Understand that no one is righteous that will not sin. Understand that yes, folks will talk about you, but let’s be honest, haven’t you talked about them as well?
Live that self-controlled, balanced life. Love God and Love your Neighbor. Do both. For if you love your neighbor, but not God you’ll never know that fullness of faith and the spiritual life that God has for you. And if you love your God but not your neighbor, in time you will cut yourself off from everyone, for they will never measure up to your standards.
Live balanced. Walk with balance. Love with balance. Speak with balance. Listen with balance. That may be the true heart of wisdom. Balance. In that, we will find life and wisdom.
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