There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins. Ecclesiastes 7:20.
The rest of this chapter is tied together in an odd way so I will have to take a couple of posts just unravel it all in order to show how I believe it connects.
Like any good writer/philosopher Solomon gives his readers an emphatic statement he believes is fact then sets about supporting it. In a seemingly non sequitur he immediately jumps into the human tendency to gossip about one another behind each other’s backs. For the purpose of illustration he reveals the heart of the problem—i.e. that even “righteous” people have badmouthed someone so shouldn’t get their panties in a wad if someone does the same to them.
When I was a teen my younger brother tried to get me to ask girls out. I was rather shy about it because I didn’t think I would be up to par. In exasperation he’d exclaim that girls stink too. While I could admit he was right, I still put women up on a pedestal of more than human—or better than me anyway. I look back and smile because I understand what he said as fact, since now I know from experience that no one is above being human.
Silly as that might sound to some of you reading this (and me at this point in my life) pedestals seem to be as natural to us as eating. For instance many of us put ourselves up on this pedestal thing every time we resent being gossiped about or put down to our faces. Each of us must admit to our own nature just confess to being a failure at righteousness. When we get all huffy or offended because someone took one of our idiosyncrasies to task in a conversation, we put ourselves up on a pedestal as above being gossiped or talked about in this manner. It’s almost strange that few of us make the connection between our own tendency to talk about others in the same manner and what others do to us.
But Solomon doesn’t stop there.
In a truly fascinating way he brings it around to his own failure to understand wisdom and the scheme of things.
All this I tested by wisdom and I said, “I am determined to be wise”—but this was beyond me. Whatever wisdom may be, it is far off and most profound—who can discover it?
What Solomon faced remains a problem for us today. Wisdom, as I understand it, is the ability to use knowledge in a way that benefits. Yet sometimes even this is beyond us, like we know something must be done but how to get there or where to start just doesn’t compute. The more we learn, more we have to unlearn and readdress reality for the truths we place as all important in our ignorance often times equals childish reasoning when the light of knowledge dawns.
Another problem, however, is knowledge without wisdom is useless. Trying to understand what we know and apply the right perspective to it without the Source of wisdom is simply futile. The conclusions we draw from the perspective of no god or God, for instance, will color how we see the evidence. Yet the issue of knowing what the actual facts are continues to haunt us where the five senses are limited to faith. No matter what we say we know by faith, without firm evidence to support our belief we leap off the bridge of knowledge into the murky waters of guessing games.
Every righteous person alive sins…
If this last sentence isn’t true, then why do the scriptures claim all have sinned and fall short of the example and reputation of God?
So everyone needs correcting; everyone needs humility, since everyone sins and requires repentance. To say otherwise is to refute scripture. If scripture cannot be broken and where it speaks about the nature of humanity it does so authoritatively and decisively, then those who believe themselves to either be better than others or above reproach sin by default of their estimate of themselves.
All this contributes to our inability to grasp wisdom in its full capacity. The inability to grasp wisdom in its capacity leaves us with gaps in our reasoning, which in turn results in bad choices. Even the spiritual minded man is gonna’ struggle with this one for we are products of where we come from first and foremost. Denial of who we were before we knew Christ only results in unwarranted spiritual arrogance which history demonstrates time and again how devastating that is. All have sinned, therefore all are sinners. If all are sinners saved by grace, no one has any advantage over anyone else.
Last point: If Paul, at the end of his life, wrote, Not that I have already attained all this, or have already been made perfect…declaring his need to grow still further in the faith, then anyone who claims more than this man of God must be looked upon with skepticism at best and downright distrust at worst.
Tags: being like God, being like Jesus, Ecclesiastes, following Jesus, God's purpose, God's will, grace, Jesus, judgment, mercy, righteousness, spiritual growth, truth, understanding God's will, wisdom