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Bible verses about Accepting and Surviving Paradox
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Ecclesiastes 7:15-18

The two most significant concepts presented within this chapter are somewhat related, being two elements of the same subject. The first is accepting and surviving the paradox found in Ecclesiastes 7:15, into which any of us could be drawn as we endure a difficult trial. The chapter also includes a few broad conclusions that help to give us some guidance.

The paradox seems to be the initial motivation for the second of these two concepts, which is Solomon's description of his detailed and diligent search for wisdom that continues for the rest of the chapter. His search was only partly successful, as he admits in verse 23 that a complete answer was far from him. However, he diligently kept at his search, and interestingly, his reflections reach back to creation and the introduction of sin into the world.

The danger within the paradox is for the Christian to misjudge that his circumstance is unfair. This error is initiated when he perceives that a Christian, a servant of God, should be greatly blessed with peace and prosperity, while for the sinner everything should be going badly. However, in the paradox the circumstances are reversed. The Christian's life seems to be in tatters, while everything is coming up roses for the sinner. The Christian, not being as fully aware of this as he needs to be, is feeling pressure to make a choice as to how he will react.

The wrong reaction lies in his becoming motivated to rid himself of the burden by resorting to radical measures to correct what he concludes is the cause of his stress. On the one hand, he may be strongly tempted to resort to super-righteousness, believing it is the solution. Yet, on the other hand, he may, out of frustration and lack of faith, resort to sinning deliberately as a means of relieving the pressure—and perhaps give up his place among the saved. Either of these radical measures can turn the paradox into a failed experience.

The correct solution is provided in Psalm 73, a complete commentary written by a deeply converted man who went through this very trial. The psalm reveals that the correct foundation of the solution is to understand that rarely is this difficult trial a punishment but a test. One must endure its stresses through a great deal of prayer, drawing on one's faith in and fear of God and believing in His promise never to allow us to be tempted above what we are able (I Corinthians 10:13). We must put our trust in God's faithfulness.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Fourteen): A Summary


 

Ecclesiastes 7:18

Perhaps the most important counsel regarding the paradox of Ecclesiastes 7:15-22 appears in verse 18: “He who fears God will escape them all.” He means that the God-fearer will escape all the paradox's pitfalls. Notice he says escape, which means we will face them, not miss them entirely.

Why is the fear of God the solution for the godly? David explains in Psalm 34:11 that the fear of God is a resource the godly must have, but they must learn it. We do not have it by nature. Why? Consider first that the carnal mind is enmity against God. Yet, to fear God is to have a deferential, reverential respect for Him. Those qualities are direct opposites. An individual does not even begin to grasp God's character until he is called and experiences a close, intimate relationship with Him, coming to know somewhat of God's power, purpose, and character as a result.

That knowledge is why the deference and respect are part of his thinking. The fear of God thus includes some measure of experience with Him and therefore trust of Him. When we trust Him, we know He is involved. He never tries us beyond our abilities, and He is ever-faithful. With that package, we are equipped to face our trials with humility, letting Him carry on with His creative purposes without our getting in the way by doing our own thing, as the super-righteous would surely attempt. This combination opens the door to true wisdom.

The apostle Paul's example shows, certainly in his revelation of his own fight with his sinful nature (Romans 7:13-25), we will come through the trial knowing that God has delivered us by His grace. There will be absolutely no room for boasting before Him, which, if done, could very well seal our doom by keeping us from His Kingdom. Regardless of what others are doing in their situations, those with the fear of God will strive by faith to face life's trials humbly and patiently. This principle will guide and guard us from the temptations that the evil fall into so easily.

The wisdom for us lies in having faith that Christ is our righteousness, our wisdom, our sanctification, and our redemption (I Corinthians 1:30). Christ in us is our hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). Salvation is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). Therefore, we do not need to put ourselves under the frustrating pressure of super-righteousness, to manufacture our own righteousness and wisdom that will never measure up anyway.

True wisdom is that we must patiently discipline ourselves not to allow ourselves to be persuaded or even goaded by the misdirection that the unconverted can fall into because Christ has revealed more important matters for us to attend to. He encourages us to have a “single” eye (Matthew 6:22, KJV), that is, to be single-minded in following our Savior. We must let God do His creative works at His pace and not try to outdo Him by our own misguided efforts. We are preparing for an eternity of cooperating with Him. So let Him do His perfect work.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Twelve): Paradox, Conclusion


 

 




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