From the August 2013 issue of Gospel Advocate Magazine…reprinted by permission
By Timothy Agee
1 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. 2 Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. (Ecclesiastes 5:1–2, ESV)
The words “Guard your steps” could be a physical instruction offered to someone approaching difficult or dangerous terrain. However, the writer of Ecclesiastes uses them to represent a significant spiritual concept: the truth that approaching God is a serious matter.
How often in our Christian lives do we mindlessly perform the outward acts of worship or become satisfied with our own understanding instead of continually seeking God’s word? Going through the motions or being puffed up by our own pride may cause us to feel spiritual or religious, but this warning tells us that we might actually be offering up “the sacrifice of fools” because we do not have the proper appreciation for who God truly is or what He means to our lives.
When we look at the significant problems facing the Lord’s church, are they not all a symptom of the greater crisis of not having the proper reverence for the almighty God? Biblical illiteracy is rampant among our churches, but if we truly understood that God was the only hope of living beyond this earthly life, would we not “hunger and thirst for righteousness…” (Matthew 5:6, ESV) that only comes from the study of His word?
What about divisions and splits within our churches? Do these not arise because we focus so intently on ourselves instead of God almighty? If we truly understood that we are nothing without Him, would we not be filled with a spirit of humility that allows us to consider others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3, ESV) as prescribed by Paul to the church at Philippi?
When considering our own regard for God, and the impact this has on our lives (or lack thereof), we would be wise to remember the words Isaiah delivered prophetically to the children of Israel who were grumbling in the midst of Babylonian captivity:
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. (Isaiah 40:28, ESV)