Claire and I are reading through Ecclesiaties at the moment and last night we came across a verse that made us both laugh out loud.
“Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise–why destroy yourself?” Ecc 7:16 NIV
It seems a bit out of place doesn’t it? Is the Bible really saying we shouldn’t be serious about being good?
Is this really an argument for moderation in all things even holiness?
Reading up about it this morning there seems to be a variety of opinions from experts about what it means with some suggesting it is someone answering Solomon’s complaint that good people seem to suffer and bad people get on fine; so the answer is don’t be too good because it gets you nowhere. But perhaps more likely is the idea that Solomon is criticising a sort of religious super-spirituallity that is more holy than God himself. We think we can be so good that God will look us and think “wow – she’s good, I must bless her” but that in the end will just lead to disappointment and bitterness. We will think God “owes us one” and so when he doesn’t bless because we are being all good and all “spiritual” we will get angry with him.
Living by grace is hard because we are so inclined to think that we can both be saved by our own efforts and also keep in God’s good books by our own efforts and yet invitation to his family is a matter of amazing grace and the fact he keeps loving us is still down to his grace.