#20 Skillful Living

12 January 2000

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven"-Eccles.3:1. Again, we draw from the catalogue of Solomon's wisdom as he observes life "under the heaven." Solomon had learned that wisdom is more than knowledge. He had learned that wisdom was using the knowledge that God had given him properly, at the right time, and at the right season; knowing when to do what. This is 'skillful living'. The word "purpose" carries with it the thought of 'desires and passions', those we will experience as we sojourn "under the heaven". These are the every day desires and passions of the heart, mind and the soul. Solomon had learned that his passions must be tempered by the word of God. He must learn behavior. He must learn to think and respond unlike the world. He must learn to control his life, his passions and his desires according to wisdom. He speaks of "skillful living". Solomon begins his examples by teaching us that there are many seasons in life we have no control over: they are in God's hands, "A time to be born, and a time to die." Sooner or later we must all learn that there are some things that we can not control, they are out of our hands. As we pass through the seasons of life there will always be those things we must place in the hands of a sovereign and loving God, after all, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"-Gen 18:25. As the little prayer goes that I love so much, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." Skillful living. His next example is one gained from many passing seasons, or, as we might say, from experience, "A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted." Just as the farmer learns from season to season the best time to plant and harvest his crops, we must all learn from the experiences of life. Hopefully, as we grow older, we will grow wiser. Can we not all look back and say, "Boy, I sure would do that differently if I had it to do over?" Just as Solomon, we must learn from the victories and defeats of the passing seasons and in thus doing we will learn to live more skillfully, for therein is prosperity. Solomon had also observed that there was "a time to kill". His father, David, was a man of war. There were those times in which he was disposed of God to protect and defend his country, family and home. But his action against Uriah the Hittite was murder. There is a difference and from this sin David suffered greatly. There is also the time to "heal". The good Samaritan recognized that time as saw to the needs of his neighbor. The priest and the Levite passed by unskillfully. Jericho's walls presented a time to "break down", while Jerusalem's walls presented a season to "build up". And so Solomon's examples go. Time and space will not allow us to comment upon each one, but if you will look, you will find a biblical example for every time and season that Solomon prescribes. By observing each one, we gain a little knowledge about God and how He thinks. We are ushered into the throne room of wisdom that we may learn how to behave in the many passing seasons of life and live more skillfully. The seasons of life are before us all, just as summer and winter. Through these we must pass. They are full of people, places and events. Each season will demand from us countless decisions, the sum of which make up the bundle of life. Some are quite trivial, while others will have lasting implications. And just as we recognize the coming of spring, we must recognize the many seasons of life and behave accordingly. This is wisdom, says Solomon, looking at life as God has designed it, knowing what to do and when to do it, taking our measure by God's standards, for there, and there alone, will we learn "skillful living." Lord, help us to control our passions. Come to worship with us at HARMONY PRIMITIVE BAPTIST CHURCH, at Donaldson, where God is sovereign and salvation is by His abundant and amazing grace. Services begin at 10:30 a.m. each Sunday morning. Phone 501-337-1115. Sincerely, Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor.