Message Text: Ecclesiastes 7:1-14
True wisdom must grapple with absurdity, tragedy, and the puzzles of life. What appears to be bad turns out to be good sometimes, but not always – so we have to have the maturity to deal with that. As we begin the second half of Solomon’s journal with chapter 7, you will immediately notice that chapter 7 looks a lot like Solomon’s Book of Proverbs. Solomon will use the word “better” eleven times in this chapter. Double “better” sayings occur at verses 1 and 8. In fact verses 1–8 make up the largest group of “better” sayings in the Old Testament. “Better things” will come to the life of the person who follows God’s wisdom.
Title: How to Live a Better Life and See the Good Even in Adversity
The first twelve verses of this section are proverbs, and the last two verses (7:13–14) conclude the section with two admonitions. Here are the proverbs in a nutshell:
Character is Better Than Cologne (v. 1) –
Heaven is Better that Heartache (v. 1)
Reflection is Better than Revelry (v. 2)
Perspective is Better than Pleasure (v. 3-4)
Correction is Better than Commendation (v. 5-7)
The Conclusion is Better than the Commencement (v. 8)
Patience Is Better than Pride (v. 8)
Peace is Better than Being Peeved (v. 9)
The Present is Better than the Past (v. 10)
Wisdom is Better than Wealth (v. 11-14)
Key Word: Now in order to navigate our way through these proverbs, I’ve organized Solomon’s inspired advice into FOUR CATEGORIES or CLUSTERS for our study. God, through Solomon, is going to give us four pieces of good advice for how to live a better life?
Find Your Work-Life Balance (1-4) Here’s the paradox: Thinking about your future death improves life today.
Detox Your Relationships (5-6) Here’s the paradox: True friends value a harsh truth over a melodious lie.
Cultivate Your Character (7-12) Here’s the paradox: The quick fix or the short-cut will not fix it and it will cost you more.
Honor Your Creator (13-14) Here’s the paradox: God balances our lives by giving us enough blessings to keep us happy and enough burdens to keep us humble.
I do appreciate the “Serenity Prayer” written in 1934 by Reinhold Niebuhr. A version of it is used around the world by people in various support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous; and it fits the lesson Solomon teaches in verse 13: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.
Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)
Come to Christ today!