Have you ever said, “I wish that I hadn’t said that,” or, “why didn’t I just keep that to myself”? Of course, we have. I personally struggled with a sharp tongue and an unforgiving attitude for years.
James is correct: “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.” (James 3:5-6 NKJV) Like a rapier, it can shred the body and psyche of its intended target instantly; much to our shame, of course . . . as we later discover. In that regard, Solomon here strongly advises that we not live fast and loose with our words.
The whole book of Ecclesiastes is Solomon’s assessment of what life is without God . . . vanity (vapor). In his writings, he describes many of those factors that go into living a life while “under the sun.” One of those factors is our laboring (making a living, if you will). In the previous chapter, he writes that our efforts in this area are often motivated by wrong reasons: Envy (vv. 4-6), selfish greed (vv. 7-12), the desire for prestige and promotion (vv. 13-16).
Here in chapter five his focus seems to be on the idea that, in spite of our best efforts, and regardless of the motivation, we are not always able to enjoy the “fruit of our labor.” Solomon goes on to enumerate some of these detriments to our enjoyment.
The first of these is found in verses 1-7, where he speaks of rash vows and promises to God. Keep in mind as you read this Scripture that Solomon sees folly as anything that is not wisdom. So, we can be ‘a penny wise and a pound foolish’ and destroy our best efforts by our actions or speech.
Without going too deep into the text, let’s glean from it the general guidelines: don’t be hasty with your promises or impulsive in your thoughts; let your words be few (Prov. 10.19). Someone has said that, “we have one mouth and two ears; we should listen twice as much as we speak.” (Col. 4.6)
Have a blessed day; speak joy into someone’s life today. They will thank you for it. (1 Sam. 12:23)
-Pastor John Roberts
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Please welcome our Sunday morning contributing writer, Pastor John Roberts. John is the pastor of New Hope Fellowship in the great Northwest where he resides with his wife of 46 years.