Summary: We learn from Solomon that life is not always fair. Yet, God is just!
Life Ain’t Always Fair
August 23, 2015
Have you ever done something really nice for someone and it backfired? It doesn’t matter what the reason or what you did . . . maybe they showed no appreciation – there was no thank you, no acknowledgment that you did something good for someone.
I read about a man who was running on a trail and saw that a tree had fallen across the path. Most people were stepping or jumping over it. As he was approaching it he saw a woman pushing a stroller and knew she couldn’t get around it. So, he went over to move the tree out of the path. He picked up the tree, felt something go out in his back and felt a searing pain in his knee. Then he heard a noise. He noticed a swarm of bees coming after him. Bad back and all he started running and stopped after 5 minutes only to find the bees were still after him. In the end, he spent 3 days in the hospital because of an allergic reaction to the bee stings and had physical therapy for his back.
Have you ever been there? Something just didn’t go right with what you did. You tried to do good, but . . .
In his powerful book, The Road Less Traveled, the very first line, Scott pack wrote this, "Life is difficult." It’s not deep, but it’s true. The author, Solomon, saw that life is messed up and a tangled mess as well.
We’re in week 6 of look at Ecclesiastes and I believe Solomon would agree with Peck — life is difficult. I believe Solomon would agree with that. Even though he was the most affluent and well-educated man of his time, even though he was the most powerful man in his era, he also understood how painful, unfair, and topsy-turvy life can be.
In Ecclesiastes 7:15 he wrote ~
15 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.
16 Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself?
That’s a strange sounding passage. He’s not saying the righteous, the just, or good person perishes because they are righteous. And he’s not saying be wicked so that you can prolong your life. Instead, he’s reminding us that life is not always fair. He’s telling us sometimes the wicked person seems to win, while the righteous person, the good person comes out on the short stick and seems to lose.
That's not how it should be, but that's how it is sometimes, isn't it? The righteous die young and the wicked live a long time. It’s the old saying, ‘the good die young, while terrible dictators and abusive people seem to live to ripe old ages.
Yet, Solomon goes on to say — 16 Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself?
Now that sounds really strange. Don’t be overly righteous? Don’t be too wise? Solomon is really stating a proverb for us. He is not advocating moral laxity and using poor judgment. He is warning against the obsession of always needing to be right. Solomon is telling us to insist on this, ultimately is self-destructive. People who have to win every argument eventually alienate everyone around them.