Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.
With this series of posts, we are gleaning truth from Ecclesiastes 7 that will help us avoid those wild swings of emotion during turbulent times of life. It is easy in the ups and downs of it all to push the panic button. To see the introduction to the series, visit Don’t Push the Panic Button on Death.
The Book of Ecclesiastes is included in a group of Old Testament books known as Wisdom Literature (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon). These books are often filled with short, smart, tightly packed riddles that have an inexhaustible depth of meaning. Also true of the genre is that these wise sayings can seem disorganized, which makes identifying the thought flow of the author difficult. Ecclesiastes 7:8-12 is a great example of this issue. If you read 10 different commentaries you will find 10 different ways of piecing these verses together.
The way these verses string together for me is in the ideas of attitudes and generations. Verse 8 speaks to the younger generation that is prone to think that a new thing is the best thing. Solomon reminds them that “the end of a thing is better than its beginning.” Don’t fail to pay attention to what has already been done. Investigate it. Learn from it. Figure out the “why” of an old thing before you scrap it and try to start a new thing.
Verse 10 speaks to the older generation that seems to romanticize the past. “Say not, why were the former days better than these? For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.”
There is always that temptation to think that the older days were much better than “these” present days. There is something about the human mind that puts a warm glow on the way we grew up. I grew up in the ’80s which everyone obviously understands to be the greatest decade in human history (I say this felicitously of course – but it was 🙂 – wasn’t it!)
We gave the world E.T., more Star Wars, Hacky Sack, and the original Rubik’s Cube. I have one word for you – Atari! Do you remember Beta-max, Walter Payton, Dominique Wilkins, Jordans, Reebok, Thriller, Dale Murphy (I grew up in Georgia), and Ronald
Not quite! They also told us in the
Despite the good and bad of every generation there is something about human nature that is prone to think that the older generations have nothing left to offer and that the younger generations will be the end of the world.
The panic button is pressed in verse 9. Here comes the attitude – anger. “Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.” Once anger takes up residence it colors the way we view every change or lack thereof. The resistance to change inherent in the older generation angers the younger one. The propensity to change in the younger generation angers the older one.
As with previous generations, we are once again in a day of divisive ideology, politics, and values. Once again, our culture seems to drive the wedge between the generations for the sake of personal gain. It is hard to ignore the cultural shifts that are taking place before us, and without doubt it is very difficult for us to wrap our minds around exactly what is happening.
But don’t push the panic button!
The gospel provides the greatest potential to create a harmonious, healthy, multi-generational community. Passages like Titus 2 more fully flesh out what is alluded to here in Ecclesiastes 7. Christ-centered, gospel community provides the richest of blessings across every generation.
For the younger generation, don’t push the panic button. You provide great energy and excitement. In our waning
While it is true that each generation leaves some mess behind for the next to clean up, not everything needs “new.” Sometimes change for the sake of change simply brings turmoil. The end of a thing is MUCH better than its beginning. We fought the battles. We tried and failed. Just leave it be. Save yourself the headache and the hassle. Appreciate it. Improve on it? Yes! Implode it? No! Slow your roll!
Now let those of us who have less days ahead than behind gather around the fire and chat. While it is true skinny jeans and man buns are questionable, despite what Fox News says, millennials will not be the death of us. They carry with them some concerns we should not have allowed to go by the wayside. They are picking up with some things we said were important, but we failed to follow through. While it is true that the mills will eventually figure out how bad vinyl sounds and end this odd comeback of the record player, I am excited to see what NEXT looks like. The future days may indeed be much greater than the former ones. May it be the church that exemplifies this for the glory of God!
Change is never easy – whether you are trying to initiate it or stop it. Wherever you are in the midst of it, don’t push the panic button. Allowing anger to lodge within you can turn you into a bitter old fool at 20 as well as 70. Remember Ecclesiastes 7:14. God has made every day, each generation, and He has something for us in all of it.
As we finish out the passage, Solomon leaves us with three thoughts to help us not push the panic button in any seemingly turbulent situation.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously (Ecc 7:15-18) Solomon brings us to balance. Some people will waste their lives thoughtlessly. Some will waste their lives with too much thinking. The world isn’t perfect and you aren’t either. Some people are trying to kill themselves trying to fix it all. You are not the standard of all things. Don’t push the panic button when the world doesn’t suit you.
- God has something for us even in the turbulence (Ecc. 7:14) God has made one day as well as the other. Consider it! Don’t push the panic button.
- Go straight to Jesus (Ecc. 7:13) I see verse 13 of this passage as the gospel according to Solomon. “Consider the work of God. Who can make straight what God has made crooked?” In Romans 8:13 Paul explains that the word was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it in hope. We have to understand the times and we have to acknowledge our nature. Both are fallen. Both are crooked. Both are incapable of saving or fixing themselves. Turbulence is going to be a part of our existence. In each instance, our tendency is to push the panic button. But consider it! Has not God ordained in the turbulence, not that you push the panic button, but that you reach out in desperation to Him with repentance and faith? Don’t push the panic button. Turn to Jesus as the Savior and Lord of your life.