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Some Lessons Learned

Ecclesiastes 12.9–14

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • January 28, In the year of our Lord, 2018


  1. If you can learn from your mistakes,
    1. you will do well in life.
    2. If you can learn from the mistakes of others,
      1. you will do even better.
      2. Why suffer through your own mistakes
        1. when someone has already made those mistakes?
        2. Then you can learn from those people what to do and not do.
      3. For this reason, The Holy Spirit
        1. included the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible.
        2. Solomon went through experiences and
          1. saw what others experienced and then
          2. he taught us about life.
            1. He made huge mistakes.
            2. Learn from him.
  2. The Book of Ecclesiastes is not about him, but it is about
    1. how he showed us what is important in life and
    2. that he learned what is important by learning
      1. from his mistakes and
      2. from the mistakes of others.
        1. As he did that,
        2. he dropped many pearls of wisdom along the way.
  3. In the spirit of Solomon in the Book of Ecclesiastes,
    1. I want to show you things that I have learned from my mistakes and
    2. I want to show you things that I have learned from the mistakes of others.
      1. This is not about me, but
      2. about listening to God’s word in the first place and
        1. it will keep you from making mistakes and so
        2. I want to draw your attention to the Scriptures.


  1. Confirm Reports
    1. We all hear things about people.
      1. Do we believe uncritically what we hear?
      2. Or do we investigate,
        1. if the reporter is calling upon us into action?
        2. If we are not being called into action,
          1. do not simply believe it as the truth.
          2. We certainly do not need
            1. to hold it against the reported as though the report is true and
            2. we certainly do not need to pass it on.
    2. Second Corinthians 13 speaks immense wisdom on this matter.
      1. I wish that
        1. every news reporter and journalist,
        2. every politician,
        3. every American, and
        4. every Christian
          1. would remember the truth found here.
          2. Truly, Paul quoted from two places in Deuteronomy.
      2. If the Bible says it in both Testaments,
        1. we had better listen
        2. to what the Holy Spirit says to us.
      3. Please try to live by this truth, for
        1. if you do not,
        2. you will do great damage
          1. to someone’s reputation and
          2. to your reputation.
      4. What did Paul say?

        1 This will be the third time I am coming to you. “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established” (2 Corinthians 13.1).

        1. Paul quoted Deuteronomy 17.
          1. If an Israelite heard that someone had committed an abomination,
          2. here is what was to happen,

            4 “…and it is told you, and you hear of it, then you shall inquire diligently. And if it is indeed true and certain that such an abomination has been committed in Israel, 5 then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has committed that wicked thing, and shall stone to death that man or woman with stones. 6 Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness” (Deuteronomy 17.4–6).
        2. Paul also quoted Deuteronomy 19.
          1. Based on the same idea of two or three witnesses,
          2. Moses showed how to prevent the spread of false witnessing,

            15 “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established. 16 If a false witness rises against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing, 17 then both men in the controversy shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who serve in those days. 18 And the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother, 19 then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you (Deuteronomy 19.15–19).
      5. Therefore, be sure
        1. that every word is established by two or three witnesses, and
        2. do not believe the first thing you hear or first person you hear, because
          1. most people are self-biased.
            1. You knew how to do it with your children.
            2. Now do it with adults.
          2. Listen to the wisdom of Solomon,

            17 The first one to plead his cause seems right,
            Until his neighbor comes and examines him.
            (Proverbs 18.17)

            6 Most men will proclaim each his own goodness,
            But who can find a faithful man?
            (Proverbs 20.6)

    3. John 7 shows that Nicodemus saw the wisdom in this,

      51 “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?” (John 7.51)
    4. We have to observe these things
      1. even when they come from our closest friends or our family.
      2. We have to observe these things
        1. even when the dirt
        2. sounds like the person we despise.
    5. Biblical truth does not cease to be truth
      1. when the situation involves our family and friends or
      2. someone we do not like.
  2. It Is the Lord, Not You
    1. Romans 12 acknowledges
      1. that there are things you know and things you can do, but
      2. do not think more highly of yourself than you ought to think.
        1. Remember who is in charge.
          1. Remember who gave you your abilities.
          2. Remember who placed you where you are.
        2. And it is not us.

          3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith (Romans 12.4).

          1. Do not think more highly of yourself than you ought to think,
          2. since it is God who has dealt to each of us a measure of faith.
            1. What then God has enabled you to do, do it, but
            2. remember where you received the ability.
    2. The trouble with becoming good at something is
      1. you can become arrogant.
      2. You begin to think
        1. that you are the solution and
        2. that success depends upon you.
          1. That you are the one who will turn an organization around.
          2. That you know everything about your field of expertise.
    3. However, the Bible warns of the danger of pride,

      18 Pride goes before destruction,
      And a haughty spirit before a fall.
      (Proverbs 16.18)

      1. If you exalt yourself,
      2. the Lord and man will humble you.
  3. Be Slow to Quit
    1. Many people quit a congregation or the church, or job, et al., because
      1. someone upset them.
      2. However, in time things or people will cool off.
    2. Ecclesiastes 10 teaches a truth
      1. that we can apply to employment, the church, the family, etc.

        4 If the spirit of the ruler rises against you,
        Do not leave your post;
        For conciliation pacifies great offenses.
        (Ecclesiastes 10.4)
      2. Think of it this way:
        1. Has your spirit ever risen against someone?
        2. Did you cool off later?
    3. James 3 shows the kind of people we should be.
      1. We should exhibit these traits
      2. when someone is difficult.

        17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy (James 3.17).
  4. Seek to Understand
    1. Understand the other guy’s position.
    2. Seek to understand more than to be understood.
      1. I believe that I hold the position of the unbiased truth.
      2. So does the other guy.
    3. Francis of Assissi (1182–1226, died at 44), prayed,

      Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
      where there is hatred, let me sow love;
      where there is injury, pardon;
      where there is doubt, faith;
      where there is despair, hope;
      where there is darkness, light;
      where there is sadness, joy.

      O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
      to be consoled as to console,
      to be understood as to understand,
      to be loved as to love.
      For it is in giving that we receive,
      it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
      and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

    4. Francis no doubt had read Solomon,

      29 He who is slow to wrath has great understanding,
      But he who is impulsive exalts folly.
      (Proverbs 14.29)

      27 He who has knowledge spares his words,
      And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.
      (Proverbs 17.27)

    5. People will not seek to understand you until you seek to understand them.
  5. Seek as much advice as you can
    1. Someone will almost always have a thought that you have not considered.
      1. Ask a second person and he or she will come up with another idea.
      2. At some point you will not hear more new ideas.
        1. Or you will have simply spent enough time seeking advice.
        2. Finally, you just need to do something.
    2. Again the Book of Proverbs has something to say:

      14 Where there is no counsel, the people fall;
      But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.
      (Proverbs 11.14)

      15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
      But he who heeds counsel is wise.
      (Proverbs 12.15)

      22 Without counsel, plans go awry,
      But in the multitude of counselors they are established.
      (Proverbs 15.22)

  6. A Fool Will Not Listen
    1. You can
      1. give him all the facts,
      2. use proper reasoning,
      3. show him what the Bible says, but
        1. it will not persuade him.
        2. Nothing in him will change.
          1. Whatever you say,
          2. he believes it does not apply to him.
    2. Yet, again the Book of Proverbs has much to say:

      16 A wise man fears and departs from evil,
      But a fool rages and is self-confident.
      (Proverbs 14.16)

      10 Rebuke is more effective for a wise man
      Than a hundred blows on a fool.
      (Proverbs 17.10)

      16 Why is there in the hand of a fool the purchase price of wisdom,
      Since he has no heart for it?
      (Proverbs 17.16)

      2 A fool has no delight in understanding,
      But in expressing his own heart.
      (Proverbs 18.2)

      9 Do not speak in the hearing of a fool,
      For he will despise the wisdom of your words.
      (Proverbs 23.9)

      22 Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain,
      Yet his foolishness will not depart from him.
      (Proverbs 27.22)

      9 If a wise man contends with a foolish man,
      Whether the fool rages or laughs, there is no peace.
      (Proverbs 29.9)

  7. VII.Riches Have the Power to Corrupt
    1. Do not underestimate what wealth and possessions can do to you.
      1. Many people think that wealth will solve all their problems.
      2. When they think that way,
        1. it actually brings problems,

          1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! 2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days (James 5.1–3)
        2. Look at what happened to Judas.
    2. In First Timothy 6 Paul issues a warning to Christians,

      9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6.9–10).