Sunday, March 1, 2015

Ecclesiastes 9:1-3: how do you tell the difference when its all the same?

Chapter Nine

1 ¶  For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them. 2  All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath. 3  This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.

Solomon points out one of the great mysteries of life for the person of faith. No man knows whether or not God loves him by his experience in the world. The lives of righteous and just men, today, those who trust in the righteous and just Lord Jesus Christ, are in God’s hands and we are to trust Him no matter what events happen to us. If we look strictly at life from a temporal point of view we don’t understand this, as righteous and wicked both come to the same end. Churchgoer or barroom denizen, the person who worships God on Sunday morning with other Christians or the person who sleeps in and watches the morning news, one thing, in the end, comes to them all.

Mankind is not basically good like the popular mythology goes.

Genesis 6:5  And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Jeremiah 17:9  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Romans 5:12  Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

When atheists look around at Christians they often see the same divorce rate, the same rate of alcohol, drug, and porn abuse, and the same troubles and trials that afflict all men. Christians aren’t exempt from sin, mental illness, from disease, from unemployment, from broken families, and statistics don’t bear out that claiming eternal life through Jesus Christ guarantees your children won’t go wild or your health fail at a young age.

Christians like to pretend that “going to church” promises them a better life and, indeed, it can but not if the lessons learned aren’t taken to heart and the philosophies of the world aren’t rejected. Christians covet stuff they don’t have and are in debt as much as anyone else. What is the difference between a Christian and anyone else? What does your lifestyle or attitude offer a sinner right now in this life that he can’t get by a humanistic philosophy? Do you manifest the fruit of the Spirit? Do you express the blessings of charity toward your brothers and sisters and even all men? Do you put on the whole armor of God daily? What does the world see when it sees you? A nutcase? A bigoted, hateful, and mean-spirited individual sitting on his or her Medicare provided scooter and screaming about socialism? Do you spend time talking about holding up in your house with your guns and canned food daring the “gubmint” to come get you at some point in the future when “those people”, whomever they are, take over? Or do they see a person secure in their beliefs, kind and charitable to all, caring for their lost souls and showing them a better way and the truth of Jesus Christ, looking heavenward and living in accordance with Biblical principles and having a day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute relationship with a living, risen Saviour?

People see how God cares for His people not in how much money or comfort they can acquire but how they rejoice and are grateful when the doctor gives them bad news, when the boss lays them off, and when someone they love is laid to rest. It is by the direction of our heart and the place we look for answers, our love for other Christians and, indeed, even the lost reprobate, and our faith and trust in Christ, even if He lets us lose our family, our material possessions, and our health like Job or risk death like the Hebrew young men in Daniel in the fiery furnace. As Job said;

Job 13:15a  Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him…..

And in Daniel;

Daniel 3:14  Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? 15  Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? 16  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 17  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

Solomon’s point that the same end result is the fate of all men, good or bad, is well-made and it is hard to tell that God loves us by what happens to us over which we have little control.  So I ask you, what defines the Christian and makes him different than anyone else? Let it not be self-righteous prating and hateful attitudes. Let it be faith, hope, and charity, gratitude, and trust in Christ even unto death itself.

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