Don't Settle for Facades

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A good name is better than precious ointment, the day of death than the day of birth.
— Ecclesiastes 7:1

This is the second article in a series of articles connected with Pastor Josh's message on "Sovereignty and Suffering."  These articles are meant to help with further application of the Sunday message.

God's wisdom always turns our man-made wisdom on its head.  This verse is no exception.  How is it that the day of death can be better than the day of birt?  I believe the answer lives in a life well-lived.  Now, I will grant to you that for Solomon life seemed so difficult that often times in this book he believed that the dead, or the unborn, were better off than the living.  However, as born-again believers in Jesus Christ, we have a different approach to life's difficulties.

One of the major things that God does in suffering is refine our character to make us like Christ.  And the way He makes us like Christ is by deepening our love, trust, and focus on the person of Jesus Christ. (See Colossians 3:1-5, 9-10; Hebrews 12:1-2)  We become whatever we are focussing on (worshipping).  Suffering strips away our false gods, our false beliefs and leaves us looking for more of Christ, if we respond wisely to our suffering.  Therefore, at the end of our lives we are left with a good name, a godly character, and not just an outward appearance of a good man or woman.

Today, too many in the church are satisfied with a "fine ointment" rather than a good name.  What I mean by that is that fine ointment or perfume is a reference to things we can do to dress up our outward appearance all the while our inward person is far from God.  The gospel frees us from this.  Because of the undeserved mercy and grace of Christ we don't have to keep up an outward facade at the expense of inward brokenness.  Yet, too often we do... why?, pride and the love of man.  We want people to believe the best about us and think we have it all together.  God offers something more, it's called walking in the light.

When we humble ourselves before God AND OTHERS and admit our need for help and change, God shows up!. He gives grace to the humble but opposes the proud.  Do you want to be able to say what Paul said in 2 Tim. 4:6-8?  I have finished my race. I kept the faith. And there is a reward in heaven kept for me?  Do you want to graduate from life with a good name and count the day of death better than the day of birth?  Then live as Paul did, "To live is Christ and to die is gain." Philippians 1:21.  The greatest desire of His life was Christ, not the approval of people.  Let God do his work in you through the trials of life. Don't fight him in pride and pretend everything is ok. Invite a trusted friend into your life to walk with you and watch what God does to increase your love for Him and change your character into His.