Day 11

Wise Sayings

from the Ecclesiastes reading plan


Ecclesiastes 7:1-22, Matthew 9:13, James 1:19-21

BY Ellen L. Taylor

I was living in Santiago with two of my closest friends for a semester abroad when I earned my college nickname: Kellen. It was one of those dear friends who coined the term, after witnessing me declare that getting ice cubes out of the ice tray was “literally the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life.” She softly sighed and said, “Ah, Kellen.” And thus my new name was born, and it’s stuck, apparently, given that some of my friends still call me some form of Kellen, Kel, or Kellie more than five years later.

When we returned to school in the states, others asked what had inspired my new nickname. My friend explained that it happened because, as usual, I was living a life of emotional extremes. My friends have always described me this way, that I’m either having the best day of my life or the worst—there’s not really much room for anything in between.

Living a life of extremes is exactly what the author of Ecclesiastes is cautioning against in today’s reading. Although one of the major themes throughout the book of Ecclesiastes is the pursuit of wisdom, and King Solomon (to whom many scholars attribute Ecclesiastes) asked God specifically for wisdom (1Kings 3:9–12), he still cautions the reader to not be excessive in their pursuit of it.

Have you ever heard the phrase “too much of a good thing”? I’ve often heard it used in reference to a delicious meal or dessert, when the decadence of the meal has caused a person to feel stuffed to the point of being uncomfortable. This is what the author of Ecclesiastes seems to be saying in this passage; there can be too much of a good thing. One’s pursuit of righteousness and wisdom can get to the point where it is excessive and no longer helpful, in the same way that a pursuit of foolishness can also be excessive. Instead, we are instructed to not be excessively righteous or overly wise (Ecclesiastes 7:16).

The key here seems to be the need for balance. Like we read in Ecclesiastes 1, when it comes to the pursuit of knowledge, we must be content with not knowing everything. There will always be more to learn, more to discover, and more ways to be wise. Our contentment can be found not in the extremes of pursuing all knowledge or in casting all wisdom aside for foolishness, but in fearing God while we are on earth, knowing that a greater glory awaits us.

Post Comments (65)

65 thoughts on "Wise Sayings"

  1. Kinesha Cox says:

    Amen!

  2. Dona Bell says:

    Thanks for everyone’s responses here! I so appreciate them.
    CHURCHMOUSE: praying for Julia, Heather and Jeremy! So glad Jeremy can join them in the hospital tomorrow.
    CLAUDIA: Praying for your peace and leaning on God for the upcoming breast ultrasound.
    DOROTHY: Praying for relief from the grief which is sure to pour out as Carol & Jake go through your niece’s belongings. Praying also for you!

  3. sherri says:

    Desiree and Sherry I thought I was the only one? “Kellen”??‍♀️

  4. Melissa Mcronney says:

    This is one of the best devotions I read, I needed this and it was a blessing.

  5. Joyce Smith says:

    Church mouse wanted to let you know I am also praying for you and your whole family. For the staff at the hospital and all that will be with Julia, for Heather and Jeremy as well . For you dear dear lady, you have blessed me more than words can say. My our Lord stay right there in the mist with you all. Praying

  6. Lindsay C. says:

    Be content in the not knowing. This is a struggle for someone like me who really loves to understand the why and make the pieces fit together neatly. Be content in not knowing why 2020 is a year of personal and corporate suffering. Not knowing what will happen with the pandemic. Not knowing how to make an impact on racial injustice. Not knowing why my family isn’t growing. God knows. Have faith it is enough. It is enough.

  7. Desiree says:

    No, not getting what “Kellen” has to do with anything, but I can identify with being super happy or super unhappy a lot of the time!

    1. Emily True says:

      Not sure if I’m way off here but I kinda thought it was a riff off of Helen Keller? Like comparing the difficulty of ice cube removal to being blind and deaf?

  8. Sherry Craig says:

    No, but I too am confused.

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