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Extreme Living

Devotions

In the 1990s, the term extreme sports gained popularity. It described sports with extraordinary risks. Participants engaged in activities that involved attaining great speed or height and took an extraordinary amount of exertion. Wave jumping, wind surfing, snow boarding . . . many extreme sports pitted one person against uncontrollable elements in a sort of survival contest.

Ecclesiastes 7 explores the desirable quality of wisdom, but it also warns against a life lived in the extremes. The extreme contrast to wisdom is foolishness, and the first nine verses contrast the actions of wise individuals with the opposite lives led by fools. Solomon pointed out that, in this life under the sun, wisdom may not always seem very desirable. He claimed that it is better to go into a house of mourning than one of feasting (v. 2). It is better to be frustrated than to laugh (v. 3). He is urging here not a life of disappointment but a serious, rather than frivolous, attitude toward life. The wise person realizes both the brevity and purpose of life.

Some people manipulate situations and extort others to achieve a desired outcome. If our goals are the most important things—no matter the cost—then evils like extortion would be justified. Solomon urges the harder and slower route of “patience,” with a greater goal in mind than instant satisfaction (v. 8). Wisdom provides a long-term perspective, an ability to consider our life and God’s purposes in it. It must be coupled, however, with “righteousness” (v. 15). Both are needed. We must not be wise merely in our own eyes or those of the world. We must see life through God’s eyes. Only God can keep us balanced to avoid extreme and foolish living.

Apply the Word

Too often we let our emotions control our actions. We associate God’s blessing with our feelings. Today you may be feeling encouraged by life’s circumstances—or perhaps your current situation is stressful. No matter what you are facing, remember that God is unchanging and in control. Allow Him to give you His long-term perspective today.

BY Jamie Janosz

Jamie Janosz serves as a content development manager for Moody Bible Institute. She writes monthly devotionals for Today in the Word and has published non-fiction essays with Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog. Recently Jamie wrote a book titled When Others Shuddered: Eight Women Who Refused to Give Up (Moody Publishers). Jamie studied theology and writing at Moody Bible Institute, Columbia College, and Illinois State University. She lives on the Atlantic coast of Florida with her husband, Milt, and daughter, Sabrina.

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