Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What Goes Around... again

“He who makes a hole for others will himself go into it, and for him who makes a hole through a wall the bite of a snake will be a punishment.  He who gets out stones from the earth will be damaged by them, and in the cutting of wood there is danger.” Ecc 10:8-9 BBE

That’s what we all hope for, isn’t it?  When we’re watching a movie, TV show or reading a book, we want the bad guy to get what’s coming to him.  And it was the substance of cartoons like Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam and, of course, the king of “what goes around comes around” or being ‘hoisted on his own petard”, Wile E. Coyote.  You know, now that I think of it, Solomon might have been describing Wile E. Coyote’s entire existence! 

No matter what he tried to do to the Roadrunner, it came back to bite him, every single time.   How many of us didn’t root for the Roadrunner and cheer when the Coyote got blown up by his own bomb?  Which is exactly what “hoisted by his own petard” means according to The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition.  2002.

Some people call it “pay back”; others would call it “karma”, and I just heard a new phrase, “The Law of Attraction”.  Apparently it’s an Oprah thing, maybe you’ve heard her talk about it, I haven’t, but I have a friend who watches and is convinced.  The way she explained “The Law of Attraction” is, we are all just made up of energy and if we concentrate on negative stuff, our energy will attract negative things to us.  Then, if we hang onto positive thoughts, our energy will attract only positive things.  That’s pretty much how karma was explained to me too.  If any of you folks watch, maybe you can explain it better.  OK, that may be a post-modern way to say it, but I think we might be able to use it as an explanation of Ecclesiastes 10:8-9.  We can take it a little farther though, because we are certainly more than energy.  We are God’s children.  So, if we fill our minds with thoughts of hurting other people, we’re not just attracting negative energy, we are separating ourselves from God—committing a sin.
“All acts of injustice that tend to shorten life--the spirit of hatred and revenge, or the indulgence of any passion that leads to injurious acts toward others or causes us even to wish them harm (for "whoso hateth his brother is a murderer")-- ... are, to a greater or less degree, violations of the sixth commandment”--PP 308 (1890). {2MCP 527.1}
And, if we take that to the next step, once we have taken ourselves out of God’s hand, we leave ourselves unprotected from the assault of Satan.  Not a good place to be!

I think that’s what Solomon is talking about through the entire book of Ecclesiastes; when we start worrying about what other folks are doing, getting, or buying, we drift away from God.  And if we’re not walking with God, everything we try to do will turn out badly.  No matter what plans we make, they won’t work out.  Even if we try to do something good without God, it will turn out badly.  On the other hand, when we’re walking with God, even if things look hopeless, God can work them out.

One of my absolute favorite stories of all time is the story of Esther.  I think it perfectly illustrates what Solomon is saying here.   It is such a perfect story.  Think about it.  Haman uses every bit of his energy trying to finagle his way to the top.  He only thinks about himself and how he can get ahead.  He doesn’t care whom he steps on to get to the top.  Have you ever met anyone like him (or her)?  Someone who thinks they’re more important than anyone else in the room, and if you don’t acknowledge his perceived importance, he gets all offended.  Haman got offended because Mordecai wouldn’t give him the honor he thought he deserved.  One measly guy – out of an entire city?!  That demonstrates some really insecurity on Haman’s part….not to mention, some serious narcissism.  Do you remember what he told the king when he thought the king wanted to honor him?   He didn’t want money or land or anything material at all.  He wanted to be out in front of the city getting applause.  Haman was really a pretty shallow guy.
Some, like Haman, forget all God's favors, because Mordecai is before them and is not disgraced; because their hearts are filled with enmity and hatred rather than love, the spirit of our dear Redeemer, who gave His precious life for His enemies.  …The love of praise has corrupted many hearts.  …It is a wicked pride that delights in the vanity of one's own works, that boasts of one's excellent qualities, seeking to make others seem inferior in order to exalt self, claiming more glory than the cold heart is willing to give to God. {4T 223}
How self-absorbed does someone have to be to assume that he is the only person the king would want to honor.  I have to laugh every time I think about him leading the king’s donkey all over the city with Mordecai in the king’s robes, and Haman having to announce that the king is pleased not with him but with the man he hates more than anything else in the world.
“So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!’”  Esther 6:11
Can’t you just picture him, stomping around, head down, for once hoping that nobody will recognize him, announcing Mordecai through gritted teeth?  Haman should have read Ecclesiastes, then he would have known what would happen if he spent all of his time plotting against Mordecai.  Unfortunately, Haman didn’t just get humiliated; he got hanged…of course on the gallows he’d built for Mordecai, along with his ten sons.
This was considered a revolutionary thought when Jesus said it… it still is:
 “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.   But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”  Matthew 5:43-44

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