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Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. (Ecclesiastes 5:1-3 ESV)
Meditate on the above verses as you prepare for corporate worship this weekend. Guard your heart, mind, ears, and mouth. What have your thoughts been all week? What will you think about on the way to church? What will you think about when you are gathered with your brothers and sisters to worship Christ? How will you think about your brothers and sisters? What will you say to them?
How will you listen to the sermon and other teachings you receive? What will you do with these Bible teachings when you go home? What will you do with these Bible teachings during the week until next Sunday?
Will you do all of these above to the glory of God?
VANCE COMMENTS ON THE POST
“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Draw near to listen, rather than to offer the worship of fools who speak before they think. Do no be hasty to utter a word in God’s presence. God is in heaven and you are on earth so let your words be few. Just as dreams come when there are many worries, so does foolish talk when there are many words.”
Ecclesiastes tells us shut our mouths and quietly listen to God but often the admonition from the pulpit tends toward rigorous self evaluation and striving to do things we have been told will please God.
The writer of Ecclesiastes finishes his thought in the next section.
“If you make a promise to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. God is not pleased with fools so do what you have said. It is better to never take a vow than to take one and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin by saying “my vow was a mistake.” Why give God cause to be angry at your words and destroy the work of your hands.”
The teachings of Ecclesiastes make so much sense. First we draw near to listen to God and when we hear something that we know we should do we make a carefully considered promise to God to fulfill it – a vow to our creator. We then follow through on our vow because of our respect, and indeed our proper fear, of God.
We no longer teach the discipline of listening and taking vows. Instead, we beat people around the ears with a list of guilt inducing questions to make sure they are ready to follow through on what they are being told they must do. We try desperately to get people to make a change in their lives in the upcoming week but so much of our preaching is as futile as trying to catch the wind. We have come to equate listening to preaching with listening to God and yet often there can be very little correlation between the many words of the preacher and the heartfelt words of God.
It may be time to go back to a simpler and more natural approach to a relationship with our creator. One that we practice daily in our human relationships – we listen to others and give our word in return, we make a promise to follow through because we care about them.
If we focused on listening and vows we would have to change the striving and carefully crafted experience of a church service into something that actually fits who, and what, we are.
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