Santa Cruz, Ca, Jodi photo 2012
Part 12 – The Sermon: Living well– Reverend Kyle McClellan, Senior Minister, Grace Church The Sermon Passage: Ecclesiastes 7:1-12
Intro. Are you living well? What about those people that own homes at lake Okoboji with all the boats? Are they living well? What is the authority to answer this question? It is not the American dream that is the authority. How does the Bible define “living well”?
Solomon answers this question not with another question but with a series of proverbs.
The Big Idea: Living well requires us to order our lives according to biblical wisdom, and look to the consummation of all God’s wisdom.
I. Reverse engineer your life (vv. 1-4).
Solomon first answers this question by taking us to the funeral home. It is better to have lots of stuff when you die or a good name? What kind of a name are you making for yourself? Image you in the casket. How are they remembering you? Cheerful? Critical? Truthful? Fast and loose with the truth? Stories of your generosity? Or stinginess? Every funeral anticipates our own. You really preach your own funeral and the pastor is just tying a bow oonce message your life proclaimed.
II. Wisdom is better (vv. 5-12).
1. The King’s Gate or the Dung Gate? (vv. 5-6).
Our ears are gateways is the metaphore Solomon uses. What are we listening too? At the king’s gate is where the council of the elders took place. This where the wise are. Only two things go through the dung gate: trash and dead bodies. If all you are doing is listening to the laughter of fools, ie. the dung gate, there is nothing sustaining in that just like thorns that are good to start fires to cook over but not sustain the fire to get the cooking done.
2. Wait patiently (vv. 7-10).
Living well means that we trust patiently God’s good plan even when we do not see it.
3. Steward wisdom well (vv. 11-12).
He links wisdom to money and says to steward both of these really well. It is good to have a savings to be able to get to when times are tough.
However, this is not the gospel so we need the rest of the story. Saving is good but not unique to the cross. 1 Thes 1:6 says the Thessalonian church received the word in much affliction. Paul says they are eagerly waiting for God’s son to return. They are waiting on the Lord. Solomon says that the end of something is better than its beginning. The real hope we have is not our savings but this solid hope of seeing and waiting for Christ’s return like the Thessalonians.
How will those you love grieve at your funeral? Will they grieve as those who have no hope? Or will they grieve in deep hope? how have you taught them to grieve?
III. Anticipate God’s Greater Wisdom (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).
How will we grieve with much hope? Paul lays out like Solomon that the birth of Christ is great but the end is better than the beginning. That is why he says in this Thessalonians passage that the death and resurrection of Christ is our guarantee and solid hope. It is his work in this for us on our behalf not about what we do or have done for him. Paul says the hope is because Christ died and was raised again not about our effort. Christ is the only solid hope. Come and get it.
1 A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth.
2 It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
5 It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools.
6 For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fools; this also is vanity.
7 Surely oppression drives the wise into madness, and a bribe corrupts the heart.
8 Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
9 Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.
10 Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask this. 11 Wisdom is good with an inheritance, an advantage to those who see the sun.
12 For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.