foolish

Good Intentions and No Ambition

An old English proverb says the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Intentions are like ambitions without action. Unless there is follow-through, intentions become rash commitments or poorly conceived plans.

A common example is the New Year's resolution that sounds good and useful but isn't carried out or sustained. Intentions can be rash—not thought through carefully or without consideration of possible consequences.

The Purpose and Value of Proverbs

Words convey meaning while terms have a more precise definition. Words have their own definitions but how they are used or expressed gives them a more distinct meaning.

The word blue brings to mind the color of the sky or a deep ocean. But a blue mood or experiencing the blues describes a person's mood—their emotional feelings.

Terms and terminology are often used to categorize something specific to a field of study or group of people. Terms can be technical and precise or an idiomatic expression or slang.

Investment, Risk and Time

A bit of confusion exists for many about the idea of karma. It's primarily Hindu in origin and is loosely related to the cause and effect of deeds or work.

But it is not equivalent to the biblical law of sowing and reaping. They are different concepts. Sowing and reaping is an agricultural term that illustrates the idea of sowing seeds to produce a crop or harvest. It's an investment that brings a return.

Remember the "Good Old Days"?

Photo credit: lightstock.com
Photo credit: lightstock.com

Most all of us have selective memory. Some people look back to an earlier time of life and yearn for the "good old days." Others get fixated on missed opportunities or tragic events.

Selective memory skews our perspective. We either filter out unpleasant experiences or dwell on them. Either way, we're not seeing things accurately, and this impairs our judgment and impacts our emotions and thinking.

Sometimes we need to reflect on some of the not-so-good experiences in life, so we have a more sober view of life. On the other hand, we need to let go of some things and leave them behind us.

Scripture

It is better to have respect than good perfume. The day of death is better than the day of birth.It is better to go to a funeral than to a party. We all must die, and everyone living should think about this. Sorrow is better than laughter, and sadness has a good influence on you. [vss 1-3]

A wise person thinks about death, but a fool thinks only about having a good time. It is better to be criticized by a wise person than to be praised by a fool.The laughter of fools is like the crackling of thorns in a cooking fire. Both are useless.Even wise people are fools if they let money change their thinking. [vss 4-7]

It is better to finish something than to start it. It is better to be patient than to be proud. Don’t become angry quickly, because getting angry is foolish. Don’t ask, “Why was life better in the ‘good old days’?” It is not wise to ask such questions. [vss 8-10]

(Ecclesiastes 7:1-10 GW) [Context– Ecclesiastes 7]

Key phrase—Don’t ask, “Why was life better in the ‘good old days’?”

[bctt tweet="Don’t ask, “Why was life better in the ‘good old days’?”"]

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

What are the things deemed "better" than their counterparts?

How could sorrow be better than laughter, or going to a funeral rather than a banquet?

Why would it be better to hear a wise reprimand than to hear someone praise us?

What things said in these verses indicate selective memory?

Reflection...

The death of someone we know should cause us to pause and take stock of our own life. Why? Death has a way of reminding us how fragile life is, and how temporary it is. When someone passes from this life, it's too late to tell them something you wish you'd told them earlier.

Things like pride, regret, unforgiveness, and bitterness are not worth holding onto. These things eat at and destroy us from the inside. Nostalgia tends to delude us. It's like summing up a person's life by their birth and death dates. Their life is the dash in-between the dates.

It's fine to remember the highlights of our life, but remember what takes place in-between the highlights. Those are when character is formed, and this makes the highlights more valuable.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

Do you allow yourself time to reflect on what and who are important to your life?

Do you have people in your life who will be honest with you, and even rebuke when needed?

What do you have a hard time letting go of? Do these things dominate your thinking?

How can a person keep a good perspective in life, rather than fall into nostalgia or regret?

Some Good Dont's to Observe

Photo credit: lightstock.com
Photo credit: lightstock.com

Many people complain that religion is full of do's and don'ts, as if this is wrong. But isn't it the nature of a civilized people to have laws that govern society in a beneficial way?

Not all "don'ts" are restrictions of freedoms or rights. It's the nature and purpose of exhortations (or laws) that is the issue. When a parent says to a child, "Don't hit your friend," is this a wrong or negative restriction? Hardly!

Scripture

Whenever you are able, do good to people who need help. If you have what your neighbor asks for, don’t say, “Come back later. I will give it to you tomorrow.”

Don’t make plans to hurt your neighbor who lives nearby and trusts you. Don’t accuse a person for no good reason; don’t accuse someone who has not harmed you. Don’t be jealous of those who use violence, and don’t choose to be like them.

The Lord hates those who do wrong, but he is a friend to those who are honest. The Lord will curse the evil person’s house, but he will bless the home of those who do right.

The Lord laughs at those who laugh at him, but he gives grace to those who are not proud. Wise people will receive honor, but fools will be disgraced. (Proverbs 3:27-35 NCV)

Key phrase

Whenever you are able, do good to people who need help.

Digging Deeper...

  1. What are we exhorted to do? What things are we exhorted not to do?
  2. What are the qualifying statements connected to each of these exhortations?
  3. How are the exhortations, in verses 27-31, related to the statements in verses 32-25?
  4. How are these statements both promises and warnings?

Make it personal...

How are you a blessing to others you come in contact with, and those with whom you have a relationship?

Are you aware of thoughts in your heart and mind that are harmful to your relationships with others?

What are specific ways you can choose to be a blessing to others, and live your life in a way that benefits others?

Reflection...

There's something to be said for the expression, "Practice random acts of kindness." But what if it wasn't random? Wouldn't it be better for us to practice kindness as a way of life?

How we treat others depends a lot on what our thoughts are towards them. If we have negative, vengeful, or hateful thoughts, then this will be seen by how we treat others.

But when God's wisdom and kindness are valued and held in our hearts and minds, then kindness towards others will more naturally flow out of us.