A Time To Respond

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Those born in the 1950’s certainly recognize these verses as part of a Pete Seeger song made famous by The Byrds, Turn Turn Turn.  The song has been touted as an anti-war song.  King Solomon was not writing a song for the “peace movement” when composing these eight verses.  King Solomon was reminding us about the balance of the universe. 

Solomon is trying to tell us that in the long run it all balances out, but as part of this balance the scales is swaying back and forth.  Throughout our lives we will never achieve a time when everything remains status quo.  Never will there be a time when the scales will just sit their level and not moving.  It will swing from one side to the other in constant motion.

Sometimes is will move slowly, you will think it’s never going to change and sometimes it will move so quickly you won’t be able to catch your breath.  Evil will follow good and good will follow evil.  Happy will follow sad and sad will follow happy.  Pleasure will follow pain and pain will follow pleasure.  There is nothing you can do about it.  It is outside of your control.

Solomon tell us in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes what we can control, and that is our frame of mind, our attitude in dealing with the balance of the universe.

Ecclesiastes 3:18-22

I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts.  For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity.  All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return. Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth? So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?

Solomon tells us just how insignificant we are in the universe.  He tells us we are but beasts and we will die just like every other beast.  We will return to the dust not sure where our soul will be.  It is unknown to all except God and the universe.

And so Solomon informs us in verse 22 about what we can control, “a man should rejoice in his work”.  By “work” Solomon means life and our response to the balance of the universe, for that we can control.

Response is the first part of responsible.  Although we have no control over the actions of the universe, we are responsible for our actions.  We can respond with an “oh, woe is me” attitude and be miserable, which makes use even worse than the beast in the field.  Or we can do as Solomon suggest and realize things will happen, good or bad, and they are outside of our control but how we respond is within our control.

In Ecclesiastes 3:16, Solomon writes again about the balance.

Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness.

In justice Solomon saw some wickedness and in righteousness he saw some wickedness.  It’s just how the universe is.

But he follows up in Ecclesiastes 3:17:

I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work.

Solomon tells us that the balance is there.

How do I wrap up these lessons of Solomon?

  • There is the balance of the universe.
  • We can do nothing about that balance except deal with it.
  • We deal with that balance by being responsible for our actions.

And the next time you are looking to man to be your salvation remember Ecclesiastes 3:20.

All are from the dust, and to dust all return.

© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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