Ecclesiastes 10:5-7,16-17: Maturity

Read: Ecclesiastes 10:5-7,16-17

The Preacher again labels something a great evil, and in this case he sees foolishness and immaturity being exalted over wisdom and experience. Here the Preacher likens to a rich man in the place of a poor man, a prince in the place of a slave – this violates of the order of the way things ought. Later in the chapter, the Preacher pronounces woes on a country whose king is a boy (that is, a person who lacks experience) and whose princes celebrate before due time. A country whose ruler excels at folly will end up in ruin. And same is true whenever immaturity and foolishness are exalted above experience and wisdom in any situation.

Maturity is something the New Testament encourages Christians to strive for. Hebrews 5:12-6:1 uses the analogy of an infants and milk. The writer of Hebrews says that his readers are like infants who drink milk rather than adults who eat solid food. Their “milk” is analogous to elementary teachings while “solid food” is analogous to deeper teachings of the Christian faith. Hebrews encourages its readers to move beyond the elementary teachings to a deeper understanding. Paul uses the same analogy to describe Christian behavior in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3. The Corinthian church had numerous problems, and Paul was saying that they were “fleshly” rather than “spiritual”. They were living as if they were carnal men rather than men who had received the Spirit and lived according to the spirit. The Corinthians thought that what they were doing was acceptable, but it was most certainly not and Paul makes this evident in the letter. Rather than act like children Paul encourages them to grow up in their faith, putting aside their carnal nature and take on a spiritual one.

One should not confuse this with what Jesus said concerning the nature of humility and coming to Christ. Jesus said that unless one becomes like a child, he or she cannot enter the kingdom  (Matthew 18:2-4). When Jesus says this, he is driving a wedge between people who think they know it all and those who are truly teachable. When one comes to Christ, the less he or she presumes to know about Jesus and God, the less one has to unlearn. In other words, one must first become first become humble in order to become mature in the faith. And one should remain humble as he or she grows too. What is now known as the “Golden Rule” encourages one to treat others as one would one to be treated (Matthew 7:11, Leviticus 19:18, Romans 13:9). One should honor others if one wants to be honored.

The Preacher is keen to note that foolishness and immaturity should not be exalted above wisdom and inexperience. Rather than extol folly and remain immature, Christians should pursue spiritual maturity in doctrine and deed. But in order to do this, Jesus says one should be humble, taking on the attitude of Christ (Philippians 2:3-8). Through sound biblical teachings from mature believers and the work of the Holy Spirit in one’s own life, one can grow into a mature Christian who can teach others and live skillfully before God.

Lord, help me to become a mature believer!