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What the Bible says about Foolish Choices
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Ecclesiastes 7:11-12

A major lesson from Ecclesiastes is that the wisdom Solomon is promoting is indeed sagacity, but a narrow, intensely practical, spiritual sagacity. We have a tendency to think of wisdom as a quality possessed by those of higher educational levels, that is, it belongs to people who have achieved multiple university degrees, written some books, and sport a string of distinguishing letters after their names.

That distinction may suggest itself, but Solomon has something else in mind. Though such people may have rightly earned respect from their fellows, Solomon is concerned about day-to-day living regardless of who one is or what his station in life is. This implies that a measure of biblical wisdom is achievable by anybody whom God calls. Why? The source of this wisdom is God, who gives it as a gift to those who have a relationship with Him. Here we find the most useful applications of the wisdom of Ecclesiastes. Though helpful to anyone, it is primarily intended for those already in a relationship with God.

The term sagacity, which entered English from Latin through French, suggests “quickness of perception,” “soundness in judgment,” and “farsightedness.” It pictures a mind that can cut through a situation's unimportant fluff or misdirecting false flags to grasp the essentials of a problem's solution. This is important for a Christian because Satan has filled the world with his clever deceptions.

A Christian must understand that the wise solution in life is always to submit humbly to God in faith. We are to do this despite the twisted reasoning the Devil can inject into our minds from a multitude of experiences in this Satan-devised, worldly system.

In the previous chapters, Solomon gives us real-life examples of circumstances that arise in the world that present us with sometimes-difficult choices. To our carnality, the foolish choice may often appear more attractive on the surface, but Solomon has been showing us in bold strokes what godly wisdom is and is not. He always makes clear what is and is not wise, and he does this most clearly in those chapters in which he makes direct comparisons: “This is better than that.” However, what may not appear at first glance is why this is better than that. Godly wisdom does not always initially appear to be the wiser, practical way, but it is always wiser despite common human opinion.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Ten): Paradox

Mark 7:20-23

In the Judgment, we cannot say, “The Devil made me do it” or “The world was so corrupt, I didn't have a chance.” Despite outside influences, each of us makes the choice to sin or not. Our choices reveal what is in our hearts, and too often we choose these wicked activities and others beside. We cannot foist the blame onto others because our sins come from within.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Are Humans Good or Evil?

Luke 9:23-25

Jesus presents the choice between clinging to our former lives or letting go and entrusting our new lives to His care. He points out that all the riches of the world mean nothing without a spiritual life—a life that will not be held captive by the grave. We might have some years of glorious living in a physical sense, but inevitably, the same event happens to us all.

He emphasizes the tremendous waste of squandering the opportunity for eternal life in exchange for a little more fun or comfort today. Christ reminds His followers that He will be coming again to reward people for the choices they made—whether they valued Him and sought Him, or were ashamed of Him and sought the dead things of this world.

One other instruction appears here: the command to deny oneself. He is not advocating asceticism but allowing God to set the terms of one's life. It is about renouncing one's own life in favor of the life that Christ is offering—one far better but more costly.

To follow after Him, we must willingly reject—even disown—any aspect of life that is not in subjection to Him. This involves putting to death the works of the flesh and purging the love of the world, including the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (I John 2:15-17). We must hold at bay all those things embedded deep in our human nature that prevent our being worthy of Him.

We must realize that to carry a stauros is not a brisk walk with a little stick softly resting on one shoulder. The stake, or the crossbeam, was a thick and heavy piece of wood. It weighed down the bearer and hindered normal mobility.

Similarly, some aspects of our calling and conversion burden us and make it impossible to walk as others do—and that is by design. Becoming a follower of Christ has never meant having an easy life. It has tremendous benefits and blessings, but it also has its burdens because of the nature that remains inside us, weighing us down as it fights for dominance. This is why in Galatians 5:24 Paul says that “Those who belong to Christ have crucified their old nature with all that it loved and lusted for” (Phillips' Translation).

The fact that we must take up our cross daily means that we must lift that crossbeam every morning and crucify our carnal nature up until we go to sleep. Then the next morning we rise and shoulder afresh those things we have to bear, crucifying the flesh again. This routine begins at baptism, but it does not end until our final breath.

I John 5:3 says that God's commands are not burdensome, yet the carnality that remains within us considers them to be so. Many believers have had to face the dilemma of being offered a better-paying job if they were willing to break the fourth commandment and work on the Sabbath, or the ninth commandment by misrepresenting ourselves. Similarly, they could have more money by breaking the eighth commandment and robbing God of His tithe. If we are accustomed to getting our way, then these behavioral limits will seem burdensome, but only because we still lack the perspective of the divine Lawgiver.

Jesus said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). In Christ, we still have burdens, but they are far easier to bear when He is providing the strength. As we become aligned with His standard of conduct, the burdens become less about the conflict within ourselves because of what we feel God will not let us do and more about the conflict we will encounter from the world as God's way of life offends them. There can be external conflict but internal peace because we are in alignment with God.

But until we are of the same mind as the Lawgiver, our carnality will tirelessly pressure us to ease our burdens by playing fast and loose with God's instructions. That is part of the cross we have to bear until our perfecting. God's law is not the problem—it is the carnal mind feeling vexed that makes our obligations feel heavy.

David C. Grabbe
What Does It Mean to Take Up the Cross?


 




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