Watch Your Step
By Pastor Jim May
One of the most terrifying weapons that man has ever created is the land mine. It can come in all shapes and sizes. Some require the weight of a truck or tank to set them off, others only require about 3 pounds of pressure. And then there are some that are set off by simply setting off the trip wire.
When the soldiers in Vietnam went out on patrol they had to watch for every kind of mine or booby trap that the enemy could devise. Any step could be your last and there were no safe trails or highways anywhere. You had to watch every step and you didn’t walk a trail or cross an open field without being very careful. Just one careless step could cost you your life, or at least cripple you for life.
There is a passage of scripture in God’s Word that tells us that even in coming to the House of God and serving the Lord we need to watch our step. I believe that we can be too careless in our worship, or too flippant in our attitude toward serving the Lord, and those attitudes can cost us dearly, not only in this life, but it can cost us our eternal soul.
God isn’t playing games with us. Serving the Lord is serious business and we need to watch what we say, what we do and how we act when it comes to our commitment to Christ.
Ecclesiastes 5:1, "Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil."
Where is the house of God, or what is the house of God? Is it this building that we call the House of God? Is this the only place that we can call the house of God?
Let me remind you that when Jesus comes into your heart that your body becomes the temple of the Holy Ghost. In effect, your body is the house of God. Therefore, no matter where you go, or what you are doing, you are always in the house of God. Not only that, but by virtue of the fact that you are adopted into the family of God, then that makes you a part of the “house of God” also. Don’t ever forget that God is with you always.
There’s never a time when you can get away from the presence of the Lord. David said it this way in Psalms 139:7-12, "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee."
The conclusion of it all is that wherever the Spirit of the Lord dwells, we must consider that as the House of the Lord. You are His Sanctuary. That’s why we sing that little song, “Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary; pure and holy, tried and true.” We are a living sanctuary, a living, breathing house of God for God dwells in us.
Since we are never outside of God’s House, then we need to pay attention to what the preacher is saying to us in Ecclesiastes when he says to watch your step when you are in the house of God. In other words – Watch Your Step all the time, lest you fall.
Do you remember what God told Moses to do when he stood before the burning bush in the presence of the Lord? God told him to take off his shoes because he was standing on holy ground! Why couldn’t Moses wear shoes? What significance is there in removing your shoes in God’s presence? Does God hate shoes? No – that’s foolishness, there’s more to it than that!
Those shoes represented everything in Moses’ life that stood between he and God. God wanted Moses to get rid of everything that was in the way. Get rid of your own thinking. Get rid of everything of the world that holds you back. Get rid of whatever stands in your way.
In that same fashion God wants us to get rid of anything that was part of that old man of sin that we once were. If you are Born Again, then you are a new creation in Christ, a new baby in the Lord. That old crabby, hard-headed, hard-hearted, unforgiving, grudge bearing person that you once were that had the bad attitudes and the stinking thinking must be left behind because he is dead in Christ. Those things can’t control you anymore. If they do, then maybe you haven’t allowed Jesus to truly take control of your life, and you are just playing games with God.
Your feet are the instruments that give you the ability to walk. In that fashion they are the instruments that stand for walking before the Lord uprightly. They represent in this passage, your conduct and behavior before the Lord at all times, but especially when you are coming before the Lord in worship.
Just as Moses had to remove his shoes before the Lord, then you must be careful to remove anything out of your life that stands between you and God’s presence. When you come before the Lord, you must come with an attitude of praise and heartfelt worship. You must be focused in on worshipping him and your mind must be centered on eternal things and not on what you are going to eat for lunch, or where you are going this afternoon or what you have to do this week. All those things are symbolized in those shoes that Moses had to remove and God wants us to get rid of those things too.
That’s why the preacher says to “Keep your feet”, or watch your step. Be careful how you walk before God because this is serious business and it could carry eternal consequences.
We can’t live carelessly before God, but we must offer the proper sacrifices unto him before they will be accepted. God would not accept anything less than perfection in the animals that were sacrificed in the Old Testament system of worship. God could not accept anything less than a perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world. That’s why Jesus had to come to be our perfect sacrifice.
And God won’t accept anything less than a perfect sacrifice when it comes to your offerings to him either. What sacrifice does God want from you?
1 Samuel 15:22, "And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams."
Obedience is your sacrifice, and it comes as you give your self wholly and completely to the Lord.
Romans 12:1-2, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
So when Ecclesiastes says to watch your step, it is also saying that we had better make sure that we offer our sacrifice of living for God without reservation.
The scripture mentions the “sacrifice of fools”. What are these fools sacrificing? Our worship and our service, given to God in the right manner are good, but so often we aren’t giving our service and we aren’t worshipping God the way we should.
Matthew 15:8-9, "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."
How often do we come together for worship and yet our heart is not in it? We can stand and sing the praise songs, but are we truly praising God, or just going through the motions? There are times when I say the words but they aren’t coming from the heart. The words are coming out, but they have no meaning because my mind is somewhere else and I’m not even thinking of what I’m saying, much less that I’m saying them to God.
It’s not only that, but we often tend to say things or promise things to God while the Spirit is upon us in the church, that we quickly forget when we walk out the door.
Ecclesiastes 5:2, "Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few." In other words, you better watch your step, and watch what you say before God because He records every word. We need to say what we mean and mean what we say!
Remember this – that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. That’s what Jesus said in Matthew 12:34.
You can call it a “slip of the tongue” when you say something wrong, or let a word fly without thinking, but it’s just an indicator of a deeper problem. If it wasn’t in your heart, then it couldn’t come out. The problem is that we are often so full of the world, that the world has to come out. “A bad word” comes from a “bad heart”. Sin still dwell there somewhere and it needs to be repented of.
Jesus also said in Matthew 12:35-37 that, "A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."
Did you hear that? Your own words will either make you or break you. Why? Because those words reveal the condition of your heart. What you say speaks loudly of who you really are! Do your daily conversations reveal Jesus in you, or do they reveal just how much of the world is still there? You better watch your step and watch your mouth, or we’ll all know what’s really in your heart!
There’s no one worse to try to talk to than a Christian whose heart is on the things of the world. There’s no one who will curse you quicker than a worldly Christian. There’s no one who act more like the devil himself than a hypocritical Christian whose heart is not right with God. Don’t cross their path or you will find out just what they are all about very quickly. I’ve never been told off by anyone in the world, but I’ve had a few pretty good tongue lashings from people who were supposed to be Born Again and full of the Spirit. I don’t think that it was the Spirit of God though.
The truth of the matter is that we need to speak a lot less and listen a lot more. The preacher here tells us to let our words be few. We need to communicate. We need to praise God, but we need to let God do most of the talking. How often do we just pray quickly, telling God everything; asking Him for everything, and then we quickly get up without giving God a chance to speak to us? Give God a chance once in a while. It’s no surprise that many people say they never hear from God. They don’t give him a chance to say anything before they are gone again.
Ecclesiastes 5:3, "For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words."
If there’s one type of person that bothers me sometimes it’s those who have to talk non-stop. It’s not that they talk a lot, but that I know that what they are saying isn’t really true at all. We tend to brag a whole lot about nothing. We like to try to impress others by stretching the truth and embellishing our stories. I’ve heard it called a snow job as well as some other colorful terms. But God calls it lying.
Some people must have had at least two lifetimes prior to this one because all the things that they claim to have said or done couldn’t be accomplished in the short time they have in this life. When they open their mouth you know that they aren’t telling the truth, much like a politician. Fools, Solomon says, can’t help but talk all the time because it puts up a smoke screen that hides their true ignorance.
The final point that I want to make to you today is that the preacher says in Ecclesiastes 5:4-5, "When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay."
I know that you have heard of jailhouse religion. In hard times we promise God a lot, and we quickly forget those promises when times are better. But understand this: God still remembers our promises and he will hold us to them.
One day we will answer for every idle word, and especially every promise that we’ve made to God.
If you promised God to serve him, then serve him. If you vowed to do something if God would intervene in some circumstance of your life and then you forgot that vow, there will be consequences to pay.
A vow unkept, becomes a lie, and a lie brings forth the judgment of God. I wonder today, how many of God’s people are in trouble because they didn’t keep their vows. God can’t bless disobedience, and he will allow things to come our way to remind us of our vows.
Watch your step, watch what you say – be careful to do what you told God that you would do. Don’t promise God anything that you aren’t willing to do.
Is there something in your life today that remains unfinished? Have you made God some promises or said some things that you haven’t fulfilled? Make them right today and start fulfilling your vows to God.
You promised him all your heart – so give him all your heart.
You promised to serve him – so serve him.
You promised all to God – so give him your all.