September 19 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…” ~Ecclesiastes 9:10

OLD TESTAMENT

The Teacher gives real advice for the real world. He is a pragmatist. He tells it like it is. There are fools in this world and some of them are very funny, but avoid them at all costs (Ecc. 7:5-7). Life can be hard sometimes, but the tough times are opportunities for learning (Ecc. 7:1-2). Some things are crooked, both in this world and in our lives, and they cannot be put straight. The best we can do is to be happy when things are going well and learn all we can when things are not. You will frustrate yourself trying to fix it all (Ecc. 7:13-15). There are wayward women in the world that will seduce and tempt you, so (with God’s help) avoid this awful snare that is more bitter than death (Ecc. 7:26).

The guy in charge is the guy in charge, and you aren’t going to change that. He’s the king (the boss, the coach, the president, the CEO)—and “he will do whatever he pleases” whether you like it or not (Ecc. 8:2-6). Wise people know this. They refuse to be part of a group of naysayers because that’s a path to exile, or a lost job, or a seat on the bench! The wise person knows when and how to talk to the person in charge no matter how upset the big guy (or gal) is: “For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a man’s misery weighs heavily upon him” (Ecc. 8:6).

The Teacher is telling us that it is a dangerous world out there, and we have to know how to navigate it. He is no cynic, however. He calls us to eat, drink, and enjoy life as much as we can. He calls us to live with all our might while we do live (Ecc. 9:7-10). But he also tames our aspirations: we can make a difference, but we are not going to change the world. Live wisely in this dangerous world, give it your best effort, enjoy the blessings, but remember that meaning only comes from your eternal relationship with the eternal God.

NEW TESTAMENT

One of the reasons the Corinthians dismiss Paul is his refusal to be on the payroll. Other pastors accept a salary to care for their families, but Paul decided not to. He was an itinerant minister, meaning he traveled from city to city, and he did not want the church to think he was taking advantage. Instead of respecting the apostle for his ethics, the Corinthians denigrate him for it! Who does he think he is trying to tell us what to do? He isn’t even a paid staff member! He’s probably not good enough to land a full-time ministry position, that’s why he travels around from place to place and lives like a vagabond! How painful this is for Paul. He makes the sacrifice because he loves the church, and the people throw his good deed back in his face (2 Cor. 11:9-11)!

It’s amazing how wrong people can be in their perceptions of others sometimes. We all know how painful it is to feel misjudged. Here is a passage that warns us against speculating on the motives of others. Cynicism and criticism grounded in arrogant ignorance hurts everyone. May God protect our churches from muckrakers! No one wins when they get started.


Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.