<< Previous | Index | Next >>"THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES" Counsel For Better Living Ec 7:1-14 INTRODUCTION 1. In the first six chapters the Preacher has shared with us... a. His search for meaning - in Chapters 1 & 2. b. His observations during the course of his search - in Chapters 3 thru 6. 2. He has repeated his conclusions time and again... a. Life "under the sun" is vanity - Ec 1:2; Ec 1:14; Ec 2:11 b. Yet there is good that one can do, provided one is blessed by God - Ec 2:24-26; Ec 5:18-20 3. In relating the experiences of his search and observations, he shared counsel for living life "under the sun"; for example... a. The value of friendship - Ec 4:9-12 b. The proper way to approach God in worship - Ec 5:1 4. In the remaining six chapters the Preacher continues to share his counsel... a. Through a mixture of proverbs and narration 1) Imparting wisdom designed to make the most of life "under the sun" 2) I.e., while life under the sun is "vanity", how then should we live? b. There is a wealth of wisdom found in these chapters 1) Too much to cover in detail in this series 2) We will simply survey the Preacher's counsel as we make our way through the book [With that in mind, let's take a look at Ec 7:1-14, in which we find a series of comparisons (note the frequent use of "better"). For example, the Preacher would have us understand that...] I. HONOR IS BETTER THAN LUXURY (Ec 7:1a) A. "A GOOD NAME IS BETTER THAN PRECIOUS OINTMENT" 1. Here the Preacher is extolling the value of a good reputation - cf. Pro 22:1 2. The precious ointment is representative of luxury B. WHY THIS IS SO... 1. We have already seen the vanity of wealth a. We may leave it for someone who is foolish - Ec 2:18-19 b. Unless God give us the ability to enjoy it, it is all for naught - Ec 6:1-2 2 A good reputation finds honor before God and men, and benefits us after death! a. Just as it did with the "elders" of the Old Testament - He 11:2; He 11:39-40 b. Especially if our "names" are written in heaven! - Lk 10:20; Ph 4:3 [So in what time we have in this life, it is better spent making a good name for ourselves, than accumulating wealth! Next, the Preacher shares what may be a shocking revelation to some...] II. YOUR DEATHDAY IS BETTER THAN YOUR BIRTHDAY (Ec 7:1b) A. "THE DAY OF DEATH THAN THE DAY OF ONE'S BIRTH" 1. The day of one's death is better than the day of one's birth 2. Of course, this assumes one has first made a good name for himself! B. HOW THIS IS SO... 1. The day of one's birth is the beginning of many sorrows a. As Job observed, and even cursed the day of his birth - cf. Job 14:1; Ec 6:3 b. As did Jeremiah - Jer 20:14-18 2. But for the righteous, the day of one's death is the beginning of eternal bliss! a. They enter into peace and rest - Isa 57:1-2 b. They go to be with the Lord - Ph 1:21-22 c. They are blessed to be at rest from their labors - Re 14:13 [Speaking of the day of one's death leads naturally to the next bit of counsel from the Preacher...] III. A FUNERAL IS BETTER THAN A PARTY Ec 7:2-6 A. "BETTER TO GO TO THE HOUSE OF MOURNING THAN TO GO TO THE HOUSE OF FEASTING" 1. Everybody loves a party, but everybody needs to attend a funeral! 2. Why? The Preacher tells us why... a. "For that is the end of all men" 1) Life "under the sun" is not forever 2) We must all die and face what follows next - cf. He 9:27 b. "And the living will take it to heart" 1) A funeral reminds us of the brevity of life and the eventuality of death 2) A funeral forces us to face reality and encourages us to prepare for it B. "SORROW IS BETTER THAN LAUGHTER" 1. The Preacher explains further why it is good to attend a funeral 2. Laughter may have its place, but sorrow is superior for making the heart better - cf. He 12:11 a. Laughter provides a temporary reprieve from the burdens of life b. But sorrow, especially at a funeral, encourages us to make positive changes 3. For this reason, the wise person will be found often in the funeral parlor, while the fool would rather spend time at a party C. "IT IS BETTER TO HEAR THE REBUKE OF THE WISE THAN...TO HEAR THE SONG OF FOOLS" 1. At a funeral, one is likely to hear the rebuke of the wise; at a party, the song of fools 2. But the laughter of fools is like the crackling of thorns in a fire, and is vanity a. Thorns make a lot of noise b. But they burn quickly, provide little heat, and are therefore of little value -- So also is the laughter and songs of the foolish IV. THE END IS BETTER THAN THE BEGINNING Ec 7:8 A. THIS IS SIMILAR TO WHAT WE HAVE ALREADY SEEN... 1. That the day of one's death is better than the day of one's birth - Ec 7:1 2. But the principle has application to more than just one's overall life B. HOW THIS IS SO... 1. Many projects start with good intentions, but are not completed; it is when they are finished that we can truly look back with satisfaction 2. Many things begin with grief and difficulty, only to end in joy and peace- cf. Psa 126:5-6 [Our primary concern should be how things will turn out in the end, rather than how they may look at the beginning. To help us keep focused on the end, it is good to remember that...] V. PATIENCE IS BETTER THAN PRIDE Ec 7:8-9 A. "THE PATIENT IN SPIRIT IS BETTER THAN THE PROUD IN SPIRIT" 1. Pride is evil, and is of the world - cf. Mk 7:21-23; 1 Jn 2:16 2. Patience is a virtue to be pursued by the man of God - cf. 1 Ti 6:11; Ti 2:2 B. WHY PATIENCE IS BETTER THAN PRIDE... 1. Pride leads to contention and destruction - Pro 13:10; Prov 16:18 2. Pride leads to anger, which resides in the heart of the foolish - Ec 7:9 3. Patience, on the other hand, is indicative of wisdom and necessary to salvation - Pro 14:29; Ro 2:7; He 10:36 [Another gem of wisdom that leads to better living is understanding that...] VI. THE PRESENT IS BETTER THAN THE PAST Ec 7:10 A. WE ARE NOT TO SAY "WHY WERE THE FORMER DAYS BETTER?" 1. People often reminisce about "the good old days" 2. They often bemoan that things were better then than now B. ONE IS NOT WISE IN THINKING THIS BECAUSE... 1. Memory has a way of forgetting bad things in the past 2. Even if one experiences trials in the present, there is cause for rejoicing - Ja 1:2-4 3. We may neglect opportunities for much good in the present by dwelling on the past [Speaking of wisdom itself, the Preacher tells us that...] VII. WISDOM IS BETTER THAN WEALTH Ec 7:11-12 A. WEALTH HAS ITS ADVANTAGES... 1. Money can serve as a defense in life - Ec 7:12; Pro 10:15 2. Money can attract many friends - Pro 14:20 B. HOW WISDOM IS BETTER... 1. Riches do not profit one in the day of wrath - Pro 11:4 a. The presence of wealth often makes things worse b. As when marriages and business partners fight over who gets the money 2. Wisdom gives life to those who have it - Ec 7:12 a. Wisdom will make the best use of one's wealth as a defense b. Wisdom will help one weather the storms of wrath [Finally, the Preacher gives the following counsel for a better life...] VIII. RESIGNATION IS BETTER THAN INDIGNATION Ec 7:13-14 A. THERE ARE SOME THINGS WE CANNOT CHANGE... 1. God has His purpose, which we cannot change - Ec 7:13; Isa 43:13; Dan 4:35 2. His purpose allows for both days of prosperity and adversity - Ec 7:14 B. WE NEED TO DEAL WITH THIS IN THE BEST WAY... 1. Enjoy the days of prosperity 2. In days of adversity, consider what lessons might be learned 3. It does no good to get angry about things we cannot change -- As we saw earlier, there is both a time to weep and a time to laugh - Ec 3:4 CONCLUSION 1. What has the Preacher taught us? Simply that... a. Honor is better than luxury b. Your deathday is better than your birthday c. A funeral is better than a party d. The end is better than the beginning e. Patience is better than pride f. The present is better than the past g. Wisdom is better than wealth h. Resignation is better than indignation 2. If any of this sounds foreign to our thinking, bear in mind that it comes from one... a. Who experienced everything life has to offer b. Who found life "under the sun" lacking c. Who offers counsel from the perspective of wisdom and inspiration d. Who provides this counsel that we might make the best use of our time "under the sun" Are we willing to accept his counsel and benefit from it, or will we learn the hard way, and often only too late to do much about it? "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" In our next study, we shall consider his counsel regarding "a balanced life"...<< Previous | Index | Next >>
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