*Every week during our 12 week series in the book of Ecclesiastes we will post a devotional guide that week for the passage that was preached on the most recent Sunday. We encourage you to engage this book of the Bible more fully by walking through this devotional each week after having listened to the sermon on Sunday.*
Week 8- Ecclesiastes 9:11-10:20
Nobody wants to be a fool. I cannot imagine someone reading the wisdom literature books in the Bible (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job, Song of Solomon) and believing that folly is better than wisdom. No one would rather play the fool than the wise sage. But do we show with our lives that we actually believe this to be true? Are we intentionally pursuing wisdom and choosing to live wisely or do we allow even a little bit of folly to creep in?
Solomon tells us in this section that wisdom is definitely better than folly, but it has its limitations. It does not guarantee us anything in life. Trials, suffering, and death come for the wise as well as the fool. Wisdom can produce a sweet smelling fragrance but it is susceptible to spoil (Eccl. 10:1). Therefore, don’t put your hope in wisdom because it cannot guard against these realities. Nevertheless, wisdom is still worth pursuing because, generally speaking, life will go well for the one who is wise. But more than that, wisdom honors God because it rightly recognizes the truth about who He is and enables us to live in right relationship to God and the world He has created. Whereas folly does not honor God because it shows no care or concern for His truth, will, or ways. Therefore, the best course of action is to pursue wisdom daily while trusting completely in Christ.
But do we think we are walking down the wise path when we are actually treading the path of fools (Eccl. 10:2-3)? Sometimes it is easy to live more in line with worldly wisdom rather than godly wisdom. Worldly wisdom thinks it knows the best way to live. It claims to have the reality of life, death, and meaning figured out. But it does not look to God for this wisdom, and it is off when it comes to the gospel of Jesus Christ. To those who boast of worldly wisdom the cross is foolishness (1 Cor. 1:18). But once the Holy Spirit has illuminated our darkened hearts and minds to understand the truth about Jesus, we see that worldly wisdom is actually foolishness. For all the claims to wisdom and knowledge that adherents of worldly wisdom make, they could never have predicted the cross of Christ. Therefore, “God [has] made foolish the wisdom of the world” (1 Cor. 1:20).
Even those of us who have received the true wisdom in Christ can be foolish. While we have placed saving faith in Jesus, we can sometimes intermingle worldly wisdom with true wisdom. We can take beliefs from culture or non-Christian worldviews and mix them in with Christianity because those other beliefs appear more desirable to our modern sensibilities than some of the difficult truths taught in the Bible. We can twist biblical truth or toss it out completely because we feel that we have reached a level of enlightenment that the writers of the Bible did not possess. But this is folly. God is truth (Jn. 14:6), He has revealed His truth to us in His word, and He has faithfully preserved His word from the beginning. So, while there can be elements of truth in other religions (for example, the reality of suffering in Buddhism), only Christianity has complete knowledge about God, Christ, salvation, meaning, and hope. Therefore, wisdom looks to, and trusts in, Christ alone.
We can also be foolish when we put up with any level of sin and folly in our lives—“So a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor” (Eccl. 10:1). Do we put up with “a little folly” because it is not affecting anyone else? Because no one has to know? Because everyone else does the same thing? Because it is a small sin compared to the really bad sins? This line of thinking is out of step with the life of the faithful Christian that wisely desires to know and honor Christ above all else.
Do we indulge folly when we genuinely know God’s wisdom as revealed in Scripture and fail to submit to it? Do we claim to desire wisdom but find ourselves constantly seeking out distraction and entertainment rather than reading God’s word and praying? We cannot truly desire wisdom without coming to the Source of all wisdom and learning from Him through spending time in His word. To believe otherwise is folly.
Do we fail to live and learn wisely because we gather around us teachers to tell us what we want to hear rather than ones who will boldly challenge us with the truth of God’s word? Often we desire to be affirmed in what we want to believe is true rather than desiring to know God’s truth and live well in light of it. Many times we would rather continue down the easy path of folly rather than let godly wisdom challenge and change us. We must pray for discernment to know truth from falsehood, wisdom from foolishness. And we must pray for grace to live wisely instead of merely having an intellectual knowledge of wisdom that doesn’t impact our daily lives.
But thanks be to God that He has chosen to save us through the gospel of Jesus, even though worldly wisdom deems it as foolishness! Thanks be to God that He not only calls us to pursue wisdom and live wisely, but He reveals Himself and the true wisdom that is found in Christ to us. And thanks be to God that He gives us the Holy Spirit to discern wisdom from folly and to have the grace and strength to live well for His glory. May we humbly pursue true wisdom in Christ while placing our hopes in Him alone.
How would you describe your pursuit of godly wisdom? How can you become more earnest in your pursuit?
Is there any amount of folly in your life that you have allowed to creep in and spoil the wisdom God has given you in Christ? Pray that the Spirit would reveal this to you, confess it, and create next steps for you to move forward in the wisdom of Christ while relying on the power of the Spirit.
Are there areas of worldly wisdom that you have allowed to coexist in your life alongside true, godly wisdom centered on Christ? Pray that the Spirit would expose these and move toward Christ in trust.
How can you grow in spiritual discernment as you pursue true wisdom?
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
If wisdom comes from a knowledge of God’s truth then we must grow in our understanding of God’s word and we must pray for insight into how to live well in light of God’s word. Resolve to spend more time in focused study of God’s word every day this week (at least 5-10 minutes more than what you normally do) as well as more time (5-10+ minutes) in focused prayer about how what you read applies to your daily life. Consider engaging in forms of distraction and entertainment less (social media, Netflix, web browsing, etc.) so that you can devote that time to humbly pursuing wisdom from God’s word.