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The Wisdom of Faith and Joy

By David Robinson/ May 8, 2016

Series  Ecclesiastes: Life Under the Sun

Context  Westminster Chapel Toronto

Topic  Discipleship

Scripture  Ecclesiastes 11:1-10

A wise heart is a joyful heart. And a joyful heart is a humble heart that trusts in God.

Scripture:  Ecclesiastes 11:1-10

Sermon Notes:

  1. Solomon has made a shift from giving us his reflections on life to commanding us to be wise.
  2. Even though the wise way does not always meet with success, Solomon says to pursue wisdom. 
  3. Solomon reminds us there is uncertainty in life. Four times in these verses he says “you do not know” (Ecc. 11:2,5,6). But even with those limitations he says to live wisely.
  4. Wisdom is not necessarily having a lot of knowledge; it is knowing how to live despite not knowing everything. 
  5. Solomon highlights in Ecc. 11:1-6 that a wise person acts and serves in faith.
  6. The wise man is industrious (Ecc. 11:1-6). Solomon alludes to the example of the hardworking farmer who sows his seed in faith trusting God for the harvest.
  7. There are two main interpretations of these verses. The first is that Solomon is instructing us to be good businessmen: trade and invest (“cast your bread”, “sow your seed”) and diversify (“portion to 7 or 8”). The second interpretation is that Solomon is instructing us to be charitable, to give wisely and generously (cf. 2 Cor. 9:6; Prov. 19:17).
  8. Solomon's words also have a broader application. He is calling us to act. He's speaking to the indecisive, the hesitant person. Act and do not be paralyzed by the ‘what ifs’ of life. Use the time, money, and resources you have been given to do good and to accomplish God’s work (Ecc. 9:10; 1 Sam. 14:1-23; Gal. 6:9).
  9. In Ecc. 11:7-10, Solomon says wisdom serves in faith joyfully. Three times he says rejoice or have cheer. 
  10. First of all, Solomon says rejoice in the opportunities you have to serve. Second, rejoice and be joyful in light of God's judgment. Third, cultivate joy in your hearts by removing vexation and pain. 
  11. Light is sweet and it is pleasant to see the sun (Ecc. 11:7). We are to know that this is the day the Lord has made and rejoice and be glad in it. Make the most of each day and each opportunity to do good.
  12. Solomon then turns to young people (Ecc. 11:9), saying, let your heart be cheered; you have time and opportunity ahead of you. 
  13. But do not misapply verse 9. Solomon is not saying be true to yourselves or follow those youthful passions of your heart. Remember the context: the wise heart, a heart inclined to God.
  14. Know that God will bring you into judgment. We are accountable before God for all we do and say (Heb. 9:27).
  15. However, we are not to live in fear, trying to measure up. Christ bore our judgment for us (Heb. 9:28). God’s law teaches us how to live; it no longer condemns us.
  16. Righteousness and rejoicing go together. We walk in this path as believers. And our hearts are cheered because of it. 
  17. Solomon says to put vexation away (Ecc. 11:10). The word vexation carries the idea of anger, bitterness, sorrow, grief. He says do not let your heart be weighed down by these things. 
  18. The word “pain” here has a moral connotation: put away evil. The key to rejoicing is repentance (“put away evil from your flesh,” Ecc. 11:10).
  19. A wise heart is a joyful heart. And a joyful heart is a humble heart that trusts in God (1 Pet. 5:6-7).

Application Questions:

  1. How does the wise person face the uncertainty of life?
  2. What is the importance of diversification and decisiveness in wise living?
  3. What is the basis of our rejoicing in life?
  4. Why is God’s judgment a source of comfort to the believer?