It is easy to talk a good game and a lot harder to live it out. It is easy to be wary of a person that “talks big” yet fails repeatedly to follow through. This is a very real challenge for the follower of Jesus. It is tempting to talk the walk and at the same time to not take God seriously! This can be especially challenging in an “Age of Grace” to minimize God. So I wonder, are you really serious about God?
Our journey in Ecclesiastes took us to the first portion of chapter 5. Solomon, in this section, takes a different direction than the previous passages. His testimony of His journey to find significance without a God priority has proved futile. A man with all the resources, authority and wisdom to do as he pleased reveals that life does not make sense if God is not at the center. It is here in this section that he reminds us of the need to be serious about God.
I realized while studying this seven verses that it is easy for us to use “grace” as an excuse for worshipping ourselves. Our casual attitude to our worship of God can be a display of my disrespect for God. I mean think about it. We have to have our coffee and snack during the service. We feel free to get up and get a refill or use the rest room. We think nothing of talking during a service and distracting others. It could even be seen in our later arrival and rush to get everyone where they need to go. It is also reflected in the whole family skipping church because one kid is sick or our lame excuse for sleeping in because we stayed up too late or letting another activity squeeze out our time with God. Now, I am fine with casual. I like casual. Yet, our passage got me thinking about what our casual approach says about our personal respect for God? Solomon’s words got me thinking about where the worship of Jesus ranks in my heart.
Solomon opens this section by reminding us, “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil.” (Ecclesiastes 5:1) I need you to take a moment and read the verse again slowly and thoughtfully. The opening phrase reminds us to evaluate our habit and faithfulness in corporate worship. The word translated “guard” means to watch our step. It is a call to be careful about the choices that we make. Actually the phrase “when you go” takes it a step further to remind us to evaluate our habit of worship. The phrase “sacrifice of fools” challenges us not to superficial in our spiritual practices. Solomon’s command reminds us that we need to be concerned about our attitude toward and our practice of corporate worship. This is not just an Old Testament concern; the writer of Hebrews admonishes us not to be inconsistent in this area too. Solomon also touches on a second area, the area of giving and keeping our commitments.
So am I suggesting that we take a legalistic approach to worship? The answer is absolutely no. What I am suggesting is that we evaluate our own hearts and the priority of corporate worship and follow through on our commitments. I see Solomon’s admonition as a gracious reminder to take my relationship with God seriously. This is a message for the contemporary church today and for me. How about you?
-Pastor Joe Parkinson