Who Is Wise?
Ah, Ecclesiastes...That is the great question. I see this book struggling to enumerate to us, to demonstrate to us the benefit of the pursuit of wisdom. The down side? Not only does death come to us all, but it comes to the wise and to the foolish alike. Being wise, or righteous, does little to add length of days to our lives. It doesn't seem to provide any justification to life other than a provision of understanding and an expansive knowledge base. So why pursue it? To what purpose the pursuit of wisdom?
If we take the Teacher's counsel, there are some traits we might expect to see manifest in us in our pursuit of wisdom: a bright expression; a sense of purpose and direction, a broader awareness that might translate into skill as we attempt to maneuver through life. These are all welcome benefits.
But they can't keep bad things from happening to the good people. They can't keep good things happening to bad people. They can't interdict God's will for us, our number of day or the weather. They can't make kings more just, not unless they subscribe to wisdom...and even then, there are no guarantees.
Here, I think, is the heart's core of this journey we are taking through the Teacher's observations about life, the universe and everything....It's not about falling down, but when and how we choose to get up again and what we choose to learn from that stumbling plummet out of comfort and into distress. Any one can fall. It is those who choose to rise up again and make another attempt at life that we need to keep and eye on, and learn from.
Sound familiar? It should be. It is the example we all share and give testimony to in the person of Jesus the Christ. Has anyone fallen farther, or risen higher? From death on the Cross to the right hand of God in glory. Now, that's a comeback story...and yet, still the Teacher and Paul lay a caution on us. Don't begin to assume we are justified over and against anyone or anything else. God loves all, equally...completely. What matters for us is not anticipating our future rewards for how good we behave...but rather the choices we make in the here and now that reflect and attempt to demonstrate what it means to be a fallen people who choose to continually rise up, learn and grow wiser...
...so we can fall again, and then, rising be reclaimed as God's own.