Explore the Bible Study: Where is the Balance?

10:06 AM

 

It seems there are a lot of curveballs begin thrown at us right now regarding every cultural, medical, environmental, and political issue one could ever imagine. In addition, there are the personal curveballs many are facing, perhaps even you. The Explore the Bible Study: Where is the Balance? from Ecclesiastes 7:11-22 will examine how and why godly wisdom gives believers the strength to press on regardless of life’s curveballs.

Godly Wisdom's Value for Responding to Life's Curveballs - Ecclesiastes 7:11-14

Solomon described the value of godly wisdom in the following ways:

  • "As good as an inheritance." -- An inheritance is usually given freely based upon a relationship. It is usually given freely without conditions. Equally, godly wisdom is given by God as an act of grace.
  • "An advantage to those who see the sun." One should use godly wisdom while still alive (see the sun). It should not be squandered or ignored.
  • "Is protection as silver is protection." -- The phrase "wisdom is protection" literally is “the shade of wisdom” in Hebrew. The idea of protection derives from the picture of one’s being protected from the intensity of the sun’s rays in the heat of the day. Godly wisdom protects us when life throws us a curveball.
  • "Preserves the life of its owner." -- Godly wisdom keeps us from going places we should never go - physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Solomon then reminds his listeners in verses 13-14 to remember that God is Sovereign; he states that no one can straighten out what He has made crooked. The idea of something being crooked may be understood in the sense of “inexplicable” rather than a more ethical meaning like “wicked” or “corrupt.” There will always be times in life that remain a mystery because God has chosen not to reveal His purposes or complete answers to all our questions. Once again, this teaches us to trust God’s sovereign hand because no one can discover anything that will come after him.

Realizing that there are days of prosperity and joy but there are also days of adversity with both being under the Sovereignty of God is difficult to understand. If we don’t seek godly wisdom we might respond to life’s curveballs with panic, anger, or fear. If we seek godly wisdom, it can lead us to respond with trust, peace, and contentment. 

Basically, the two truths of this passage are simple—We should praise God in our prosperity and trust God in our adversity. Consider how you are handling adversity (curveballs) today? What needs to change so that you can experience contentment in whatever circumstances you find yourself -- see Philippians 4:11.

Godly Wisdom Helps One Avoid Foolish Extremes - Ecclesiastes 7:15-18

Solomon had lived long enough and seen enough to conclude that sometimes the good die young, and the wicked live long. This is a difficult reality because one assumes, based upon several teachings in the Old Testament that righteous living prolongs a person’ life while wicked living shortens an individual’s life – see Exodus 20:12 and Deuteronomy 5:33. So what do we do with the text God gave Solomon in this passage?

These verses are about finding the balance between two extremes. The key is found in the words excessively righteous and overly wise, or excessively wicked and foolish in verses 16-17. The one who fears God avoids both extremes and lives a grace-balanced life.

When we experience life’s curveballs, we can't blame God or manipulate God. Some people respond by trying to be more "righteous" and expecting God to take away the difficulties. Still others totally rebel against God and pursue evil, even as a form of retribution toward God. Both extremes produce the same results. 

Solomon called for God’s people to live reasonable and balanced lives, avoiding the extremes of moral self-righteousness and foolishness.  Balance is found when we revere God and recognize our sin, avoiding the errors of self-righteousness and indulgence.

Godly Wisdom Gives One the Spiritual Strength to Overcome Criticism - Ecclesiastes 7:19-22

  • How do you respond to criticism? Does it destroy you? Does it prompt you to respond back with criticism?
  • Solomon reminds us not to pay attention to what people say. What was his rationale for saying this in verses 20 and 22? 
  • How does our awareness of our own sinfulness make us increasingly willing to offer forgiveness and extend grace to others? How does it help us respond to criticism?

Solomon gives one the balance one needs regarding power and influence. The self-righteous (foolish) person takes counsel or criticism to heart because it is an attack on his/her worth and security. The humble (wise) person can accept counsel or criticism for what it is and implement what is useful and true in a constructive way because of his or her own admission of the need for growth. Equally, realizing that there are none righteous and that all have sinned will prompt a wise person to respond to others who might criticize him with compassion, patience, and grace.

How is Your Balance?

Believers have the wisdom to see all of life from God’s perspective. Because of this they are free to “rejoice with those who rejoice” and “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). In a culture that values extremes, believers can be a voice of balance and reconciliation. Seeing the sin in the world should lead us to be gracious toward others, but it should also lead us to share the hope of the gospel with those suffering under the consequences of sin.

How can you keep a balanced perspective and respond with balance both emotionally, spiritually and relationally as you observe all the curveballs being thrown at us today?

Throughout the week, take notice of issues where people have a difficult time finding balance. Look for ways to demonstrate godly wisdom and to share the good news of Jesus with those who are hurting and looking for balance that only Jesus can provide.

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. Be sure to use this as a supplement to your study of the Explore the Bible Study resources provided by LifeWay.

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