Friday, April 23, 2010

A Time For Everything

The Scripture is full of profound perspective-changing wisdom. This morning, as I was reading through Ecclesiastes, I was struck by how strongly our culture wants to live and view the world in an unrealistically positive light. The realist recognizes and accepts life exactly as it is. He does not rail against the inevitable. He does not deny the need, during different times and in different circumstances, to respond to life in very different ways. As you read this, see if you can grasp what perspective is being offered by Solomon, and what perspective our smiley-face modern culture adopts:

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born,
And a time to die;

A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;

A time to kill,
And a time to heal;

A time to break down,
And a time to build up;

A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;

A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;

A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to gain,
And a time to lose;

A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;

A time to tear,
And a time to sew;

A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;

A time to love,
And a time to hate;

A time of war,
And a time of peace.
While the author of these words is seeking to remind his readers that a holistic perspective of life recognizes the necessity and value of each half of the pairings, our culture would prefer to exalt and emphasize only one half of each couplet. We love to dance, but don't take time to mourn. We love to love, but forget that there are appropriate times and places for hate. We love to heal, but harbor an unhealthy aversion to killing. We like to speak, but we aren't very familiar with the discipline of silence. We're big on peace, but are unwilling to fight for what should not be ceded. We like to gain, but not to lose. We love to get paid, but we're not quite as excited about working hard. We build up that which should not be built up and tear down that which should not be torn down. We're quick to hoard and slow to give. In this cruel time, we not only despise death, we also despise birth, hence the modern prevalence of abortion. How unbalanced we have become, in our thinking and views!

Yet, if we wish to live life God's way, in accordance with life as it actually is, we must have our eyes opened to see the value of those things of which our culture bears an irrational aversion towards. Death is not something to be feared, but instead should serve as a reminder that our lives are evanescent and fleeting. We must embrace birth as a joyous occasion to celebrate new life, and we must be grateful that God, in his mercy, allows physical death to serve as a reminder that we are both flawed and eternal beings, and that our existence is not merely physical. We must be brave enough to hate what should be hated, and insightful enough to love what is lovely. We must be courageous enough to kill, when it is called for, as well as to heal, at the right times. War is something that, though terrible, is sometimes necessary, hence we must know when, how and why to fight.

Wisdom recognizes that silence is sometimes the best thing to say, and the best state of the heart. Speaking should come in turn, but we must not always be hasty to speak our minds. We must be industrious in our labors and diligent in our work, so that we may be fully pleased with receiving compensation for our duties. We must learn not just to be consumers, but also to be charitable givers, seeking the good of others. We must recognize that both in our own lives and in the lives of others, there are times for encouragement and times for reproof. We must not be afraid to call others to repentance and offer much-needed correction when appropriate. We must not solely concern ourselves with the pursuit of pleasure, but must also take time to weep and mourn. Those times are necessary and good for the soul.

Where there exists within us a tendency to polarize towards either end of the spectrum, we must seek balance and be in a place where we recognize the value and import of those things that are labeled by our culture as "desirable" as well as those that our culture views as evils to be avoided. Both within ourselves and as members of our society, we must pursue balanced thinking and balanced living. For some, their individual calling may lean towards one side of the spectrum. Yet, such individuals must be cautious they they do not despise or oppose those with an opposite calling. Some people are more skilled at tearing down and some at building up. So long as they both do it in the right way, we must not despise either. Maybe you have a tendency to be strongly vocal about your views. That is a good thing, as long as you properly value the silence of others and take time to be silent, yourself. The pages of Scripture, and the wisdom of the ages teach that there must exist balance. Let us not adopt the unbalanced stances of our present culture.

1 comment:

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