Day 16: A better way to live
“It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools … Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” (7:5,8).
In the first six (artificial) chapters of Ecclesiastes, the Preacher provides many powerful examples of why life under the sun is meaningless. He turns his attention to what was his principal theme in the Book of Proverbs – the way of wisdom, and goes on to provide several examples of why that is the way we should be following. But first he considers what is better as opposed to what is worse. As for examples (which we can identify with), that on the face of it appear random, we can cite seven from the first eight verses of Chapter 7 (GNT). We then ask seven questions, which if nothing else will challenge our priorities:
1 A good reputation is better than expensive perfume; and the day you die is better than the day you are born.
2 It is better to go to a home where there is mourning than to one where there is a party, because the living should always remind themselves that death is waiting.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter; it may sadden your face, but it sharpens your understanding.
5 It is better to have wise people reprimand you than to have stupid people sing your praises.
8 The end of something is better than its beginning. Patience is better than pride.
- Rather than the “sweet” trappings of wealth, should not our focus be on becoming good, faithful, honourable people?
- We may look back on our coming into the world but would we not do better to think about how we are to leave the world?
- The natural desire of human kind is to want to have a good time etc. (party) but should we not rather be living in the light of eternity?
- Most of us like a good laugh (it is after all an agreeable distraction) but given the reality of life, would we not do better to have sorrow?
- We may love to be praised – but should we not prefer it if we are told when we are going wrong – because it may help make us better people?
- However good or bad something begins, isn’t the ending more important?
- Should we not value patience as an antidote to pride?
Prayer: We thank you Lord you want us to follow the better way. We are faced with so many decisions and temptations. Help us choose what is pleasing to you.