Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil. Although a sinner does evil a hundred times and may lengthen his life, still I know that it will be well for those who fear God, who fear Him openly. But it will not be well for the evil man and he will not lengthen his days like a shadow, because he does not fear God. There is futility which is done on the earth, that is, there are righteous men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked. On the other hand, there are evil men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I say that this too is futility.
– Ecclesiastes 8:11-14
You may recall that Ecclesiastes is the Old Testament book that begins with the cry “All is vanity!” It’s attributed to King Solomon who, writing late in life and long before the time of Christ, was applying his wisdom to his experiences and observations.
Though Ecclesiastes has a decidedly world-weary tone which distinguishes it from other Old Testament books, its dour view of the human experience was confirmed by Paul in the New Testament, though with the hope ignited by Christ attached to it:
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
– Romans 8:20-21
The common note between Solomon and Paul is that life on this earth can be depressing. Why?
First, there are the problems that come into our lives because of our own sins. For example, a person who drinks too much alcohol might get cirrhosis of the liver. Second, there are the problems that come into our lives through the sins of others. For example, a speeding motorist runs a red light and runs over an innocent pedestrian. The common denominator of problems in this world is sin – even though we can’t always know which sin caused which problem. What we do know is that if there were no sins, there would be no problems in this life.
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord, help me take my sins more seriously so that I might stop harming my fellow man…(this is where you remain quiet to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.
(All scriptures, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the NASB.)