What is a life worth living? I think by now most of you will know that I believe a life worth living involves being a Christian. As a Christ follower I strive to be a righteous servant, a good person and especially obedient to Christ. What does this look like though? From day-to-day what does a life worth living look like? The wisest man to ever live was King Solomon and in his book Ecclesiastes he describes what he has observed and experienced in life. He has a great description of what a worthy life should look like daily.
In my vain life I have seen everything. There is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evildoing. Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time? It is good that you should take hold of this, and from that withhold not your hand, for the one who fears God shall come out from both of them. Wisdom gives strength to the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city. Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins. Ecclesiastes 7:15-20, (English Standard Version or ESV).
I think of the overly righteous person as a person that is rather rigid and legalistic in their beliefs about God. Jesus constantly made fun of the religious leaders for their hypocritical and pious belief system. In fact in Matthew we read the “Woes” section where Jesus describes their rules and laws that have been missing the mark for a long time.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! Matthew 23:23-24, (ESV).
Can you imagine how angry this must have made the religious leaders? I can just picture the scene, there are people in the city, the market place, the synagogue courtyard and it is hot and some of the people have animals to include camels and donkeys and dogs and cats running to and fro. Gnats are buzzing around the animals and the shoppers who are looking for food and Jesus says that you are so blind that you are trying to strain out a gnat but instead swallow a camel! Wow! That is being pretty blind! So what is my point? Not to be a hypocrite. Solomon warns of being too righteous or too wise because you will destroy yourself. He should know because he certainly lived a destructive life even though he was given much wisdom. Some people just can’t handle worldly success even though they have much wisdom from God and Solomon is the perfect case study to learn from.
Solomon also says not to be too foolish or wicked as well. There are many people today that come to mind when I was reading this scripture. Solomon as the richest and wisest King ever probably had seen much evil in others. We see those with power and money today that are corrupt but we also see those who are poor and have no power that are just as evil and corrupt. We need to guard our hearts against being foolish because it leads to wickedness. Fools die before their appointed time according to this observation of Solomon. Think about all the drunk driving accidents that cost people their lives, think about the junkies that die of an overdose, think of anger that leads to murder…all were foolish ends to life before the appointed time to die. We need to heed the wise words of Solomon and not be too wicked or foolish.
I love the next verse in Ecclesiastes: It is good that you should take hold of this, and from that withhold not your hand, for the one who fears God shall come out from both of them. We who fear God will not be too righteous or too wicked because we examine our lives and find the right path to take. God helps us to examine ourselves and to root out our sins and confess them and repent of them and let go of them! If we were fools before coming to the Lord then God will cure us of our foolishness. If we were too righteous before coming to the Lord then God will cure us of that self-righteousness. God is the equalizer, the balancer, the one who makes us complete and whole, and not at the extremes of too righteous or too foolish.
The last two sentences of the passage in Ecclesiastes tell us something important to remember. We need to ask for and seek wisdom because wisdom is an important tool for our spiritual warfare arsenal. We need wisdom to grow our faith in Christ Jesus and in God. We also need to remember that we will sin, perhaps not as often as before we came to Christ, perhaps not as grievously as before coming to Christ, but we will, nevertheless, sin! Knowing that we are not perfect people until after death from this earthly life will keep us pliable and forgiving of others.
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3:21-26, (ESV).
We all have sinned and will sin again but with our faith in Jesus Christ we are forgiven and that is important for us to extend forgiveness to others. We all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, but we are justified by the gift of grace through Jesus. Wisdom is finding Jesus Christ and living as He teaches us to live out our days on earth.
So what does a life worth living look like? We are to be humble because Christ took our place on the cross. We are to be forgiving because Christ first forgave us. We are to be loving because Jesus loved us so much He died for us and God loved us so much that He sent His son to die for us. So what was the conclusion of Solomon about a life well lived?
The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:11-14, (ESV).
Until next time…Katherine