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Posts Tagged ‘Ecclesiastes’

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3: 13, NIV)

 

“Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you.  Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.”—Ecclesiastes 7: 21-22

In the daily lectionary, today’s Old Testament readings are from Ecclesiastes at this time of the year and the verses above are from today’s reading, May 30th.

It is hard not to take to heart lots of the things that people say!  Pastors are especially prone to such as someone may come up and say those deadly words, “Pastor, some folks are saying…”   Given the verses, the “things that people say” are cursing, that is, defaming and dishonoring your name, your good name. It is related to the 8th Commandment. When it is taken to heart, that means, I am hurt, dismayed, angered.  .  So first, this first half of verse 21 is good advice but the result is interesting, “…lest you hear your servant cursing you.”  For instance, we live in an age in which what people say about public figures is polled  daily, and it seems, even hourly.  What happens when a servant’s master (read here, leader, father, mother, official, boss…well, anyone) does take to heart all the things that people say? You might get really depressed and then your servant (read, son, daughter, student, co-worker, friend, etc.), those who need you, will curse you because you become ineffectual. You might get really angry, then those who need you will curse you because you’re always “in a lather”.  You might hear all the gossip, and decide to bend with public opinion and this can even worse as one is tossed to and fro by every wind of gossip.  Then those who need me will curse me because I have wimped-out. Those who love you need your leadership.

But then comes the punch line of God’s Law:  Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others. All that time I was feeling wounded, betrayed, etc., I forgot how many times I have cursed others!  “Oh, not to their faces!”  “But, your heart, your mind, knows how many times you have thought so!”  (James 3:8-10) Then verse 20:  Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.  I guess I have not been as righteous as I thought…I was looking to me, and not to Thee, Dear Savior!  I have licked my wounds and not sought Thy wounds.  Your heart knows.  But rejoice! 

  By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; or whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.  Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God-1 John 3: 19-21

 When my heart knows it’s cursing, be assured,  it’s sin, God is greater than our heart! Be reassured in His Promise to you.  He knows everything and from Him no secrets are hid.  His Law shows His condemnation and upon the Cross His salvation.  The other response per Eccleciastes 7: 21 is I won’t take what people say to heart and just “buck-up” and let that roll off like water on a duck’s back, in other words, stoicism. Natural man, that is the Old Adam, can do that for awhile…but not day by day, let alone forever.  That’s for awhile as the Law accuses always: who are you fooling?  Not stoicism, but His forgiveness, His death for people who cursed and mocked Him…folks like this “righteous man”. (Galatians 3:13) When by faith we know His Cross and our forgiveness, our hearts do not  condemn us, we have “confidence”, literally “with faith”, before God on account of His Son in His Incarnation. Then in Christ, in Him alone, we can do  what under the Law we could never do:   bless those who curse us, that is pray for them. Romans 12:14.

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“…the production of spectacular effects depends more on the art of the stage machinist than on that of the poet.” 

“The Spectacle has, indeed, an emotional attraction of its own, but, of all the parts, it is the least artistic, and connected least with the art of poetry.”–Aristotle

The Olympic closing ceremony began with a fleet of vehicles covered in newsprint and it was all  quotes and citations and by-lines by Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Chaucer, etc….. the greats of English literature.

At the same time, like a Superbowl half-time on steroids,  they trotted out all those aging rockers touting them as English ‘greats’ in music:  George Michael, Queen, The Who, etc.   FWIW: Some of them I like.  But here’s the rub:  the greats of English literature were reduced to disposable newsprint, saying to me, they are rubbish while the ephemera of pop culture were exalted to live on in the memory of man.  Give me a break. For goodness sake, if they wanted a rock concert, just have a rock concert…instead they made a ‘statement’…and maybe more than they bargained for.

One of the Shakespearean quotes, in big print, that NBC’s coverage kept on showing was the beginning of Hamlet’s most famous soliloquy: “To be or not to be…”  His question about suicide.  Maybe it was not a cultural suicide but a cultural lynching, all the more poignant since that culture gave us our literature, our government, our language.  There was no poetry for the closing ceremony of the Olympics.  Idolatry thrives on spectacle.

All things are full of weariness;
   a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
   nor the ear filled with hearing.  Ecclesiastes 1: 8

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