I have seen everything in this meaningless life, including the death of good young people and the long life of wicked people. So don’t be too good or too wise! Why destroy yourself? On the other hand, don’t be too wicked either. Don’t be a fool! Why die before your time? Pay attention to these instructions, for anyone who fears God will avoid both extremes.
King Solomon was the wisest King the nation of Israel ever had. But, that wisdom didn’t get him very far. If anything that wisdom led him down a path of destruction. He had searched for meaning and sought gain in every area of life under the sun he possibly could. He gained wealth, fame, and women. But, in the end none of those things ever provided any satisfaction. He gets to a point in this letter where he says we need to find balance in life.
We have a lot of voices to listen to in life and a lot of choices to make. It is easy to get pulled from one extreme to another. Solomon says money can only do so much, even though it is something we need. If we go too far one way or the other we will get lost. We can’t totally do without but having it all isn’t good either. He talks about patience being something we need in order to get through this life. In other words we have to be willing to be in the moment and not try to rush ahead in envy of other seasons or people. He also says, it is good to remember the past, but you can’t live there. If we spend all of our time longing for the “good ol’ days” we will miss the present moment God has us in and the hope we should have with the future.
So, what are we supposed to do? How do we escape this constant pull? Solomon has an easy answer – fear God. Live life with a healthy reverence of who God is. Make Him your focus and trust. It is in that space we will find a healthy balance and find the most joy and peace in life under the sun. So, fear God, that is the first step.
The second step Solomon shares with us in verse 26 where he says we need to please God. He was talking about how he was attracted to seductive women and his only escape was to live in obedience to God. These extremes are attractive. Money is attractive. Power and influence is attractive. The past is attractive. The future is attractive. We want lots of things and they can easily be seductive. We avoid that seduction and find the escape as we live in obedience to God. He leads us out of the extremes and away from the dangers of that seductive woman, but we have to be willing to follow.
Seek balance in life – do so by living in fear of God and in obedience to Him.
Pastor Matt Huff leads Portland Central Nazarene Church. He loves being in ministry and seeing lives transformed by the power of Christ.