Archive for August, 2012

In Search of Many Schemes…

August 25, 2012

So I turned my mind to understand, to investigate and to search out the wisdom and the scheme of things and to understand the stupidity of wickedness and the madness of folly.  Ecclesiastes 7:25.

 

To illustrate his point, Solomon uses the following analogy:  I find more bitter than death the woman who is a snare, whose heart is a trap and whose hands are chains.  The man who pleases God will escape her, but the sinner she will ensnare.  Before anyone gets all huffy about this “diatribe” to women, remember Proverbs 31 praised the woman of virtue.  Solomon collected the sayings in that book, which means he wasn’t against women in general, just bad girls.  If you want to compare the amount of times he spoke against women to men, the weight of evidence will be on the male side.

Then what’s he trying to say about women and men in this rather hard observation?

Well, for one thing he’s not saying women are bad in general.  So let’s ask a question:

 

Is the woman the trap or is the man’s desires for her the problem?

 

I say both.  James 1:14…but each one (man) is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Our biggest “fail” as humans is our unwillingness to look our own desires full in the face.  Or, to be more precise, to look at ourselves in the mirror—literal or figurative—and see who we are without blinders, philters or anything which might hinder a true reading.  Solomon declares that women can snare, trap and chain a man, yet he also chides men for being fool enough to go looking for easy sex.  Oh, he doesn’t mention that word but it is implied.  Men act as their own worst enemy in a quest for sex without consequences.  I’ve know a few women who want this too, but women pursue sex for slightly different reasons than men as a general rule.  That’s not to say a woman can’t be narcissistic because everyone knows better than that; rather, their general goals make sex a means.

Earlier in this chapter we read: There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.  If this is true, then when Solomon says at the end of the chapter:  Adding one thing to another to discover the scheme of things—while I was searching but not finding—I found one upright man in a thousand, but not one upright woman among them all.  This only have I found:  God made mankind upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes.  Ecclesiastes 7:28, 29.

What we see here is a “connect the dots” kind of logic.  If there is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins, then even that one upright man in a thousand is in search of sex outside godliness.

Why is there not an upright woman with that upright man?

Because, though God made mankind upright, they have gone in search of many schemes.  We are the product of our own desires.  Our world’s condition is a direct result of mankind’s search for anything to quench the thirst for pleasure outside of God’s design.

I refuse to condemn any sinner for being such since I know I am one myself.  If everyone who claims Christ as their savior looks in His perfect mirror, they will know the truth and humbly accept they have no right or place to condemn anyone.  Wisdom is justified by her deeds.  A man who conforms to wisdom realizes his own weaknesses; a woman who does the same recognizes her own failures to hit the bulls eye.

The biggest fail in my view is the refusal to admit our own sinfulness.  For if we not only admit it but gladly point it out—not in general but in fact, we become a true light for grace, mercy, forgiveness and restoration.

For All have Sinned…

August 17, 2012

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.