Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | February 5, 2017

“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”

Today’s devotion comes from Ecclesiastes 7:1-8.

“A good name is better than a good ointment,
And the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.
2 It is better to go to a house of mourning
Than to go to a house of feasting,
Because that is the end of every man,
And the living takes it to heart.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter,
For when a face is sad a heart may be happy.
The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning,
While the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure.
5 It is better to listen to the rebuke of a wise man
Than for one to listen to the song of fools.
6 For as the crackling of thorn bushes under a pot,
So is the laughter of the fool;
And this too is futility.
7 For oppression makes a wise man mad,
And a bribe corrupts the heart.
8 The end of a matter is better than its beginning;
Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit.”   Ecclesiastes 7:1-8.


We all have lost family and friends, some younger and some older, and we were confronted by their death.  No matter how glowing the eulogy, the person remained dead, and we were confronted with the shortness of life.  For me most recently and most striking, I lost an attorney friend with whom I shared office space for seventeen years.  This man was very successful in the practice of law and very well-liked by all.  He could immediately draw the attention of a conference room of people and make them laugh together in the midst of a difficult legal problem.  He was “larger than life”.  And yet, he died at the relatively young age of 65, and like all who died he remained dead.

“10 As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years,
Or if due to strength, eighty years,
Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow;
For soon it is gone and we fly away.
11 Who understands the power of Your anger
And Your fury, according to the fear that is due You?
12 So teach us to number our days,
That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”  Psalm 90:10-12.

When the wise go to a funeral or memorial service (“a house of mourning” in the language of today’s Scripture), the wise meditate on the shortness of life, what they have done or could do during their own life, and the destination of their own soul after death.  Such thoughts drive the wise to number their days so that they use them more wisely.  Such thoughts drive the wise to fear the LORD and to seek refuge in Him.

“And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive.  And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’  Then he said, ‘This is what I will do:  I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come;  take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’  But God said to him, ‘You fool!  This very night your soul is required of you;  and now who will own what you have prepared?’  So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”  Luke 12:16-21.

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?  For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”  Mark 8:36-37.

But, there is hope for my attorney friend and all others who have faith in Christ!

Although their body remains dead, their soul remains alive and goes to God in heaven.

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 4:13-14.

“And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He who has the Son has the life;  he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.”  1 John 5:11-12.


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