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March 2nd Meditation

Do not be too righteous, and do not act too wise; why should you destroy yourself? - Ecclesiastes 7:16

It seems a bit strange for the Bible to be telling us not to be "too righteous." Isn't righteousness the goal of faith? Doesn't the Bible elsewhere encourage righteousness and celebrate the righteous? Being too righteous does not seem like such a bad thing.

Self-righteous, of course, that is something else again. The self-righteous are those who wear their goodness like a badge of honor decorated with sparkles and a spotlight so everyone can see. Do not be self-righteous - that strikes me as better advice.

How can one be too righteous, anyway? Can I help too many people? Can I pray too much? Can I show to much compassion and work too hard for justice? When Ecclesiastes says, "Why should you destroy yourself?" is that what they are pointing to?

Perhaps verse 16 needs to be balanced with verse 17.

Do not be too wicked, and do not be a fool; why should you die before your time? - Ecclesiastes 7:17

Not too righteous - not too wicked. Perhaps Goldilocks had it right.

It could be that what is called for here is balance. The line between righteousness and self-righteousness is pretty thin and one crossed with all too much frequency. Perhaps once in a while it is good for us to step back from our own certainty about what is right and what is wrong to hear other voices and increase our wisdom. That need for certainty is destroying not just ourselves, but also damaging the world around us.

At the same time, let us not give up the work we are called by faith to do and drift aimlessly into wickedness. Can we find that middle path between too righteous and too wicked, too wise and too foolish, where we can make a positive impact on the world and share the goodness of God's kingdom?

Achieving balance in our lives is no easy task. When we set ourselves to it, though, we sometimes come to that inner peace we long for; a peace God longs for each of us.

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Lent 2021: The Story of Jesus in Mark

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Keep In Prayer:

Sherry Williams, Mary Wallen, Alvin Shelley, Dee Kuhlman

Our shut-ins: Kate Shelley, Dot Ann Smith, Nora Smith, Helen Payne

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