Life Is Not Fair, But God Is!Tuesday, September 15, 2020
From an early age, our youth lament about what is fair and what isn’t. I can remember things happening to me as a young child, and my response was, “That’s not fair!” Did you also say that in your youth? Maybe you have said those things even more recently? You’re probably right!
Solomon made this same observation about life in Ecclesiastes 7:15. He wrote, “All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness.” Notice that Solomon observed what we have all seen, namely that life is not fair! A just man dies, while the wicked man lives, and we think it ought to be the other way around.
Asaph wrote a similar thing in Psalm 73. He said he was distressed over his observation of the wicked until he had almost given up altogether. “My feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped” (v. 2). He looked and saw the wicked, who, “are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men” (v. 5). Life is not fair!
Let us not despair, though. Though life is not fair to us, God is! It is God who praises the balanced scale (Prov. 11:1, 16:11, 20:23). It is God who looks on things fairly when men do not (Ezek. 18:20-32). It is God who knows how to judge us fairly, based upon our works and not merely our intentions (II Cor. 5:10; Ecc. 12:13-14; Matt. 25:31-45).
Looking again to Psalm 73, we see that Asaph’s distress and depression disappeared when he “went to the sanctuary of the Lord” and understood the “end” of the wicked (v. 17). He considered what God was doing and saw that even though life is not fair, God is! We may have hardships and unfairness to contend with in this life, but God sees and knows and will make all “fair” in the end.
The “prince of this world” favors those who hate God and despises those who love Him (Jn. 14:30, 15:18-20). This is why life on earth is not fair. God, however, brings balance and fairness to His children. The question is will we accept what the Lord has said? Will we be patient in an unfair world and realize that what is fair is on the way? “Let us not be weary in well-doing …” (Gal. 6:9).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
God Doesn't See Things The Way Man Does.Monday, September 14, 2020
I Samuel 16:7 tells us that God does not see things the way man does (Ps. 139:2). There is no denying this fact if we know anything about the Bible and what it reveals about the mind of God. Today, instead of writing a long article detailing the teaching in these verses, I thought I would make a chart that contrasts God’s wisdom with man’s wisdom.
Please study the chart below. Note the contrasts between God’s wisdom and man’s, and then decide who you will follow.
A good name is better than riches (v. 1).
Riches are the most important thing -- better than one’s reputation.
Our death day is better than our birthday (v. 1).
The day of death is the worst day of one’s life (with only a few exceptions, such as an incurable, painful disease).
The house of mourning is better than the house of feasting (v. 2).
Feasting is better than mourning.
Sorrow is better than laughter (v. 3).
Laughter is better than sorrow.
Wise men are in the house of mourning (v. 4).
Wise men are in the house of mirth.
It is better to hear the wise man’s rebuke (v. 5).
It is better to hear encouragement.
The laughter of fools is as vain as expecting thorns to provide heat (v. 6).
The laughter of fools is to be desired.
Accepting bribes will corrupt you (v. 7)
There is nothing wrong with getting money “under the table” from time to time.
The end of a thing is better than the beginning (v. 8).
The beginning is better than the end.
The patient is better than the proud (v. 8).
Being proud is better than being patient.
Be slow to anger. Anger rests with the fools (v. 9; Jas. 1:19).
Becoming angry and “cracking heads” gets things done.
Don’t live in the past (v. 10).
The “good ol’ days” are better than what we have today.
This list from Ecclesiastes 7 teaches us much. Notice how these Bible facts from Ecclesiastes show that man’s ideas stand polar opposite to God’s intent. I find it interesting that the apostle Paul taught a very similar thing in I Corinthians 1:18-31 when he spoke of the preaching of the cross.
The ultimate question we must answer is: To whom will we listen? Will we listen to the world and follow “conventional wisdom” or listen to God and turn man’s wisdom on its head? Remember what David said about God’s wisdom (Ps. 119:98-100)? Listen to him! At the end of the day, we must decide for ourselves, and must face the consequences of that decision. As for me and my house, we want to listen to God. Who will you follow, friend?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
"A Good Name..."Sunday, September 13, 2020
Solomon declares that “a good name is better than precious ointment” (Ecc. 7:1). He wrote identical words in Proverbs 22:1. What makes a good “name” so important? Why would we want a good “name”?
First, understand that a good “name” speaks of a good reputation. What do people see when they see me? Be honest! Do people see a hypocrite or a genuine person? Do people see someone trying to serve God or self? It is a true statement that our actions speak louder than our words! Yes, we are known by what we do (Prov. 20:11; Matt. 7:16).
What are you doing? Do your actions match your speech? Do you tell people not to steal, even though you steal (Be it money, time on the job, dishonest on taxes, etc.)? Do you tell people not to commit adultery even though you are doing it (If you have never committed the act, remember adultery is possible in the heart, too, Matt. 5:27-28.), do you tell people to keep God’s law while you are breaking it? These are a few ways that we can be hypocrites and ruin a good name (Rom. 2:21-24).
Many seem not to care about their name or reputation, and yet, Solomon points out that there is something valuable in it (Ecc. 7:1; Prov. 22:1). What are we doing to preserve and grow the good name we have as citizens in our community? People need to know that we are honest, trustworthy, and kind people. Do folks know this about us? Men like Cornelius (Acts 10) and others stand out in my mind as having a good reputation among men, and this reputation has lasted through the years. Abel had a good reputation, and by it, “he being dead, yet speaketh” (Heb. 11:4).
The best reputation we can have, however, is when we accept the name of Christ (Mk. 16:16; Acts 11:26). “There is none other name under heaven, given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus Christ lived for 33 years on this earth and had the best reputation of all. Though He was unjustly taken and killed, all recognized He died innocent of any crime and free from all sin (Matt. 27:19; Lk. 23:4, 14; Jn. 18:38, 19:4, 6; I Pet. 2:22). He then invites us, those who have sinned and marred our reputations, to accept His good name and be free from sin, giving us the ability to start over (II Cor. 5:17). We put to death the old man of sin and rise up a new man, ready to do the Lord’s will (Rom. 6:3-6). We can honestly say that we have a new life. There are things I used to do that I do not do anymore. At the same time, there are things I used to avoid and scoff at that now I do wholeheartedly! This is such a radical change that our Lord compares it to a birth (Jn. 3:3, 5)! The result is a new and better reputation than I ever had, and I don’t intend to ruin it. I understand that this “good name” (Christ’s name/reputation) is better than precious ointment, riches, or anything that this world has to offer (Prov. 22:1; Ecc. 7:1). It is for this reason that all I say and do is done “in the name of” (in connection with the reputation of) Christ (Col. 3:17)! I strive daily to do nothing that would mar Christ’s reputation that He has offered to me.
Would you like to have such a good reputation? Do you realize that the only way this is possible is to start over? In Christ, you can have such a beginning! If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God (Jn. 8:24), and are willing to repent of your sins (Lk. 13:3). If you will confess your faith in Christ (Rom. 10:10) and then be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), you can be saved (Mk. 16:16)! You can have a new start (II Cor. 5:17). You can have a new name (Acts 11:26), which means a new reputation and a new beginning.
Start over today and see the blessings that come when we do things the Lord’s way. Become a Christian and see this wonderful reputation, and know that it is worth preserving, protecting, and promoting through the rest of your life! This “good name” is the best name! Become a Christian today.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
"Be Not Rash With Thy Mouth..."Friday, September 11, 2020
The first seven verses of Ecclesiastes 5 remind us to be careful about the words we say. As we read this passage, we see that “a multitude of words” is associated with foolish behavior (Ecc. 5:3), vanity (v. 7), evil (v. 1), and sin (v. 6). Parallel to this thought is what Christ taught in Matthew 6. He said that the heathen (Gentiles, nations, etc.) think they will be heard in their prayers because of their “much speaking” (Matt. 6:7). The point being that God did not acknowledge their “speaking.” Most men see through the tactics of someone who “talks too much”! Friend, don’t be like that.
How many times do we “shoot off our mouths” and not consider what we said until later, if ever? Solomon, by inspiration, makes it clear that our words can cause us great trouble. We are reminded here that God is vigilant in noting what we say (Ecc. 5:2b). This warning is repeated in such New Testament passages as Matthew 12:36-37, and James 3:1-12. In the book of Ecclesiastes, the Preacher reminds his listeners that our mouths can cause our flesh to sin (Ecc. 5:6). Friend, how closely do you watch what you say? David said, “I will keep my mouth with a bridle” (Ps. 39:1). What will you do? In an age of “social media,” let us be reminded that our “rash words” can be written as well as spoken. Are you careful to guard the words you type on social media? If not, why not? Are you careful about the stories you share on social media? Typed words will condemn us as quickly as the words that come from our mouths!
As we read Ecclesiastes 5, we note that verse four tells us to make sure and pay our vows when we make them. While this is not a passage talking exclusively about marriage, marriage vows are promises we make to our spouse and God, promising, “til death do us part,” among other things. Married people, are you honoring your vows? Man’s vows are so significant that it is written that it is better for us not to vow at all than to make a vow and not pay or fulfill it (v. 5). How are we doing in honoring the vows we make? See, if you make vows, but do not honor them, then you are a liar (Rev. 21:8)! Making vows also includes our debts! If you promise to pay someone back when you make a debt, then this is a vow. You need to make sure and pay your debts as you promised to do!
“By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words, thou shalt be condemned” (Matt. 12:37). Let us take the words of Christ and Solomon to heart. Our words are precious! Our words are the vehicles of our thoughts. We need to control our thoughts and make sure we do not “engage our mouths when our brains are in neutral”! “Keep thy foot” (Ecc. 5:1) means behave yourself! Let us behave ourselves and watch our words when we offer our sacrifices to God (Ecc. 5:1; Heb. 13:15; I Pet. 2:5), and watch our words daily! Jesus said our words can save, or our words will condemn.
Why is it that many of our politicians have no respect by the populace? It is because these people talk a lot, they promise (vow) a lot, and many times, their words amount to nothing! We judge them as liars because they promised things and never fulfilled their promises/vows! How refreshing it would be for a politician to come along who didn’t promise anything except to represent the constituents to the best of his ability! That’s enough!
Someone said that they prayed that their words might always be sweet, for one day they may have to “eat them”! How true! James 1:19 reminds us to be “slow to speak,” and how this is needed today! Let us follow the command of Ephesians 4:29 and 32, Ecclesiastes 5, James 1:19, and chapter 3 when we speak! We will be blessed immensely when we are not “rash” (hasty) to speak.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
"Grasping The Wind"Wednesday, September 02, 2020
No less than nine times in Ecclesiastes (1:14, 17, 2:11, 17, 22, 26, 4:4, 6, 16, 6:9), Solomon laments the fact that much of life is “grasping for the wind” (NKJV). The ESV uses the term “striving for the wind.” The KJV calls it “vexation of spirit.” The idea is that there are things we do that are worthless or a waste of time. Have you ever done anything that was a waste of time? We all have, haven’t we? Solomon says that this description (“grasping for the wind”) applies to various areas of life such as::
- The works under the sun (1:14).
- Wisdom, madness, and folly (1:17).
- Labor (2:11, 17, 22)
- Envying others (4:4).
- Hands full of travail (4:6).
- Wandering of desire (i.e., constantly craving more, 6:9).
What a list! It seems that most of what we do (and what is glamorized) on earth is wasteful or trying to grasp wind, according to Solomon! Realizing this truth can be very depressing. What is the purpose of living if so much of what the world calls essential is a waste of time and energy, according to these passages? Is there anything we can do that is not a waste? God gives us the answer. New Testament passages such as I Corinthians 15:58 say that we can do things that are not a waste of time and energy. Paul wrote, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
The words from Ecclesiastes and Corinthians are not contradictory. Rather, these passages emphasize one’s motivation. Why do you do what you do? Is it to achieve some selfish purpose? Is it to satisfy a lust (Jas. 1:14-15)? Working to please self is unprofitable. Conversely, when my focus is on God, and my labor is “in the Lord,” it is not in vain.
Solomon and Paul teach us to consider not only what you do, but also why you do it. Let’s be active in working for the Lord rather than working for self (Matt. 6:33).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs