Summary: This talks about the need for change in the church. Jesus saves, but the church sure doesn’t. Can we change our lives without embracing heresy?
Ecclesiastes 10:10 – A Change Will Do You Good
(NOTE: Most of my thinking for this flows from Brian MacLaren’s book "A New Kind of Christian". Some of this was really quite hard to say. Use with caution.)
Pastor Rodney Buchanan shares a thought with us:
We used to sing a song entitled, “Give Me That Old Time Religion.” And in the song it says, “It was good for the Hebrew children, and it is good enough for me.” But it wasn’t good enough for the Hebrew children. The faith of Abraham was not adequate for them; God had something more. God had to deliver them from the bondage of Egypt and show them something new. The Red Sea would part, Mount Sinai would explode with fire and the voice of God. Commandments would be given and there would be new lessons learned in the wilderness. The song says, “It was good for Paul and Silas.” The truth is that the old time religion was not good enough for Paul and Silas. For years Paul wanted it to be good enough, until he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. He wanted to keep the old wineskin of Jewish tradition, but Jesus was bursting the seams of that wineskin. New wine had come and new wineskins were called for.
You can’t have the old time religion. Your mother’s faith will not do, it has to be your faith. Your father’s faith is not adequate, you have to have your own experience with God. In fact, your faith, the faith used to get you by several years ago, will not do for today. If your faith has not grown since you first met Christ as a kid, the wineskin has dried and become brittle. It will not do for the new thing that God wants to do in you today. You can’t remain static. You can’t stay where you are. Yesterday’s experience will not do for today. Your faith must be current. The Lord says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland” (Is.43:18-19).
Tonight I am looking at some random thoughts based on our passage from Ecc.10:10. READ. Look at what the Teacher is saying to us. He’s saying that it is possible to cut down a tree with a dull blade. A person can do it. It takes a little more strength, but it’s possible. Now, look at the last line: “…but skill will bring success.”
What is the skill? What skills are involved in knowing how to cut a tree? There’s knowing the wind, knowing gravity, the bend of the tree, keeping the angles right, and so on. But what skill, what is the most useful thing in cutting down a tree? Sharpening the blade. Perhaps the most useful skill in cutting down a tree is not the strength used, but the wisdom used. That’s pretty consistent with what we already know from Solomon’s writings. Ecc.9:13 says, "Wisdom is better than strength."
Which means some things for us. It means that getting ahead in life is more working smarter than working harder. Not to say that being lazy is the way to go, nobody said that. No, what it means is that doing the wrong things even harder does not accomplish anything.
There’s an old saying, “Practice makes perfect.” Know what? That’s not true. What practice makes is permanent. Practice makes permanent. Only perfect practice makes perfect. But if you keep doing something over and over and over but you’re doing it wrong, it means you’ll likely never get it right.
It turns out that’s true about the spiritual life, too. If you come to believe things are a certain way, and you believe it and preach it all your life, then anyone who disagrees with you is obviously wrong. If you believe that a woman has to wear a skirt to go to church, and any woman does doesn’t wear a skirt to church is un-spiritual, and then it comes time to be too cold to wear a dress to church, and you stay home because of it… that’s crazy. That proves that practice makes permanent, but that’s a far cry from perfect. Your own rules keep you from church. That’s foolish.
You can see that working hard at something doesn’t make it worth working at. Some try to pray harder. They pray at night and fall asleep. And they try harder to pray better. But trying smarter would be not praying at night. That’s working smarter, not harder.
You can try studying the Bible better. It makes no sense to you, but you keep trying anyway. Well, instead of trying harder, try it smarter. Try a new translation. Try a Bible with study helps. They couldn’t hurt, and they could only help. That’s studying smarter, not harder.