Ecclesiastes 7:15-20 (NIV)

In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these: a righteous man perishing in his righteousness, and a wicked man living long in his wickedness. 16 Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise– why destroy yourself ? 17 Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool– why die before your time? 18 It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all [extremes]. 19 Wisdom makes one wise man more powerful than ten rulers in a city. 20 There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.

Ecclesiastes 7:16-17 (NRSV)

Do not be too righteous, and do not at too wise… Do not be too wicked, and do not be a  fool.

DEVOTION – Thomas Dury (Colorado)

When we were adolescents, my brother and I strove fiercely to win our dad’s approval.  This created a pattern of competition that continues to interfere with our relationship years later.  During a recent wilderness hike, my brother took the lead.  The trail wasn’t especially difficult, and he set a frantic pace.  Before long, however, he was gasping and suffering muscle cramps.  We make it back safely, but that competitiveness made it difficult for us to enjoy our time together.

As a young Christian, I strove fiercely to win God’s approval as well.  I tried to be a perfect Christian;  I tried to pray longer, I read the bible more diligently, and I behaved more piously than everyone else.  That attitude, however, only alienated those around me.

When I read Ecclesiastes 7:15-20, I was appalled.  How could someone be too righteous?  And how could the writer suggest that we tolerate evil?  Finally, I realized that, try as I might, I can never be perfect.  I can live as pure and holy a life as possible and avoid pretension of righteousness, but I don’t have to win God’s approval.  It’s free and unconditional.  I need only to accept it.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Stop struggling and allow God to love you.

PRAYER: Dear God, may we always be aware that our good standing with you rests solely on your grace.  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: Those Trying to Earn God’s Love