Ecclesiastes 7 & 2 Timothy 3

Ecclesiastes 7

    A good name is better than precious ointment,
        and the day of death than the day of birth.
    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.
    Sorrow is better than laughter,
        for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
    The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
        but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
    It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise
        than to hear the song of fools.
    For as the crackling of thorns under a pot,
        so is the laughter of the fools;
        this also is vanity.
    Surely oppression drives the wise into madness,
        and a bribe corrupts the heart.
    Better is the end of a thing than its beginning,
        and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
    Be not quick in your spirit to become angry,
        for anger lodges in the heart of fools.
    Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?”
        For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.
    Wisdom is good with an inheritance,
        an advantage to those who see the sun.
    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.
    Consider the work of God:
        who can make straight what he has made crooked?
        In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.

    In my vain life I have seen everything. There is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evildoing. Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time? It is good that you should take hold of this, and from that withhold not your hand, for the one who fears God shall come out from both of them.

    Wisdom gives strength to the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city.

    Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.

    Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.

    All this I have tested by wisdom. I said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me. That which has been is far off, and deep, very deep; who can find it out?

    I turned my heart to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the scheme of things, and to know the wickedness of folly and the foolishness that is madness. And I find something more bitter than death: the woman whose heart is snares and nets, and whose hands are fetters. He who pleases God escapes her, but the sinner is taken by her. Behold, this is what I found, says the Preacher, while adding one thing to another to find the scheme of things—which my soul has sought repeatedly, but I have not found. One man among a thousand I found, but a woman among all these I have not found. See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.

(Ecclesiastes 7 ESV)

2 Timothy 3

    But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.

    You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

(2 Timothy 3 ESV)

2 Timothy 3: When men begin to lose their fear of God, they will also lose their concern for other men. The apostle Paul describes the inevitable evil and corruption that will surround Christians from his time until the time of our Lord's return. The modern culture surrounding the church is full of people who are “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” Therefore, the Christian man must avoid assimilating to the world around him and instead stand out as something entirely different and distinct than the norm. 

The apostle Paul reminds Timothy that despite what most people may be like, he, as a Christian man, is something entirely different. The Christian man is a man who has been acquainted with the sacred Scripture, and therefore a man who has been made wise through faith in Christ. The Christian man is a man reliant on the Word of God and finds the Scriptures profitable and purpose giving. And as the apostle points out, the Christian man is a man who not only believes the Word of God but experiences it through living out its gospel no matter what it may cost him. 

Are we noticeably different and distinct from the ‘normal’ world around us? Are we guilty of “having the appearance of godliness, but the way that we live our life denies its power”? Our message and our way of life will be seen as increasingly strange in the eyes of modern culture. May we embrace the strangeness fully convinced that such strangeness is in fact the power of God unto salvation.