NASHVILLE (BP) – This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, Lifeway publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
This week’s Bible study is adapted from the Explore the Bible curriculum.
Bible Passage: Ecclesiastes 7:11-22
- How does acknowledging our sinfulness move us toward a proper understanding of ourselves and our limits in this life?
- What is the difference between being a religious fanatic and being fully devoted to God?
Food for thought:
Most of us have heard the proverb stating that a person should not be so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good. Most of us know someone who is so focused on heaven and spiritual life that they fail to build relationships and enjoy the time they have here. But the opposite is true as well, we can be so earthly minded that we are of no heavenly good. We know people who appear to be enjoying everything this life has to offer that they have forgotten to make any investment in their spiritual lives or in the spiritual lives of others.
In Ecclesiastes 7, Solomon called for God’s people to approach life with a wise realism, avoiding the extremes of radical moral self-righteousness and the foolishness of wickedness. In verses 7:15-18, he was not talking about moral purity here, but rather about a person following strict religious practices to become right with God. These people tended to discount any pleasures that might come their way in life. At the same time, Solomon was not calling for sin in moderation. He recognized sin and wickedness existed, as did the beauty and wonder of God.
Wise people seek to restrain themselves from sin, with God’s help. Balance is found when we revere God and recognize our sin, avoiding the errors of self-righteousness and indulgence (v. 18).
Too many times we swing to one extreme or the other. We forget that excessive religious activity does not make a person righteous. Excessive righteousness quickly becomes self-righteousness.
True righteousness comes from God (see Romans 12:3). We also cannot forget that wicked behavior has tragic consequences. Fearing God is the real key to cultivating a godly lifestyle. God’s people should be wise about their religious duties, taking them seriously without rejecting the enjoyment of good things God has provided for His covenant people.
Explore the Bible
Explore the Bible is an ongoing Bible study curriculum that helps groups dig into the key truths of each Bible book, while keeping the group on pace to study through the Bible books in a systematic way. More information can be found at Lifeway.com/ExploreTheBible.