9Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. 10The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth. 11The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. 12My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. 13The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
We’ve been learning about the book of Ecclesiastes and how Solomon penned it after living a life far from the Lord. At the end of his life, Solomon finally gets what God wanted him to know all along; namely that in a well-lived life, one will, “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of man” (v.13).
Some people live their entire life, get to the end of it, and never learn their lessons. Do you know anyone like this? Could someone say this about you? They have many, many experiences both good and bad, but they never derive any benefit from them. No progress. No advancement. No forward movement.
Some of you reading this today have made some colossal mistakes. Divorce, addictions, bankruptcy, financial setbacks, wayward children, sickness, injury, being arrested, or convicted of a crime; the list could go on forever. The point is this: Did you learn anything?
Do you know what a goad is? It’s a long, pointed stick used for prodding and guiding oxen while plowing. When an animal gets off track, it gets a little WHACK to get it back on track. So the question becomes: Do you take life’s shortcuts by learning from the hard lessons of others? Or does your life look more like this: “I want to figure things out for myself.” WHACK! “I don’t want to learn from others.” WHACK! I don’t need some ancient book to tell me how to live.” DOUBLE WHACK! Do you see what I mean?
What can make us useful and wise is when we learn from our mistakes and pass those lessons on to those around us so they don’t have to suffer painful consequences like we did. We can stop blaming everybody else for the bad decisions we made and get on the path of fearing God and keeping His commandments. Instead of being embarrassed by our mistakes, let God redeem them! Why did God send His precious Son to die on a cross for us anyway? So we would stay on an endless spinning wheel of making the same mistakes over and over again? No! So that we can be forgiven and our mistakes be redeemed!
The choice is yours. You can relent and repent or you can stiffen your neck and harden your heart. But watch out for the goads!
- Do I find myself making the same mistakes repeatedly?
- What does that tell me about how I learn from my failures?
Prayer – Father in heaven, I don’t want to be the same person I was five years ago, or even one week ago. Help me to see when I make the same mistakes over and over again and give me the humility to repent and LEARN. In Jesus’ name, Amen.