March 15: Finding Wisdom in a Fallen World - Ecclesiastes 7:15-29
We hope that you will find this guide helpful as you worship together in small groups or as a family.
CALL TO WORSHIP
"The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice" (Psalm 97:1) God reigns over all things! Though we see the world filled with sin and brokenness, death and disease, still we remember that God reigns over all things. And what's more, in the person of Jesus Christ, God has entered this broken world and brought to us the hope of redemption. The Heidelberg Catechism asks, "What is your only comfort in life and in death?" And answers, "That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul both in life and in death to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ." Praise God that he reigns supreme, and that he has brought eternal security to his people through the work of Christ.
Father, we come to you boldly as your children, because Jesus has died for the forgivness of our sins, and you have invited us to come into your presence through him. And we come asking that your Holy Spirit would cause us to worship you as we sing, and to hear from you as we listen to the preaching of your word, and to love you more as we reflect on your great kindness to us through Jesus Christ. Amen.
READ THE BIBLE
Ecclesiastes 7:15-29,  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.
WATCH THE SERMON
Summary: Again we find the Preacher on a quest for “wisdom and the scheme of things”, yet he finds it far from him. Last week we saw the Preacher grappling with the sovereignty of God and the reality of suffering. He offered us wisdom as we face the day of adversity. There was a more outward look on the happenings of life. In our passage this week, there’s more of an inward look. He examines our inner character and our relationships with other people, all of us with hearts that are tainted by sin.
We find that wisdom is advantageous and worth pursuing, but you have to recognize its limits. Wisdom does not solve all of life’s riddles. It provides no guarantees. In the fallen world we live in, in this life under the sun, righteousness will always be mixed with wickedness. But the wise don’t despair. We don’t demand more from life than we should. We fear God. We leave it to God to make sense of it all.
REVIEW AND APPLY
1. What are the perplexities of your own life? What apparent inconsistencies, injustices, or questions have you humbly brought to the Lord? How has God shepherded you through those times? How have the Scriptures guided you?
2. What does the Preacher mean by “Be not overly righteous…..be not overly wicked”? (vv. 16-17)
3. In your pursuit of holiness, what area of your life are you most disappointed with?
4. How do you typically respond to criticism? (vv. 21-22)
5. How did the sermon stir your affections for God?
6. How will it lead to obedience in your life?
Father, you have given us your word that we might know and love you. We do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from your mouth. So as we have heard from you in your word, we ask that you would help us to be doers of the word and not hearers only, that others may see our good works and then they too will give glory to you, our Father in heaven. Thank you for hearing these prayers for Christ's sake. Amen.