Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil.
Have you ever heard a pastor start a sermon by saying, “Before I get into the text, I’ve got a couple of things I want to say”? Solomon did that in Ecclesiastes 5. Before getting into the topic of money madness, Solomon gave a couple of warnings.
First, stay alert in worship. Verse 1 says, “Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil.” What is the sacrifice of fools? Look at verse 2: “Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God.”
The foolish person goes to church and forgets why he is there. He daydreams instead of being serious about worship. He mouths the songs, reads the Word of God, and prays without fully being engaged in what he is doing. Old Testament commentator Derek Kidner called this “verbal doodling,” and he said to worship in this way “is to pour out a stream of pious phrases which trifle with our Sovereign and outrun our actual thinking and intending.” That is a deep thought: to mouth words that do not reflect the true condition of our hearts is to trifle with God. It is better not to come to worship than to just go through the motions and offend Almighty God.
Second, stay faithful in your promises to God. Look at verses 4-5: “When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.” Solomon was talking not just about money but about any promise you make to God. Sometimes we say things like, “God, if You will get me out of this jam, I will serve You forever.” Or many Christians have stood at the altar and said, “I promise to be faithful to this person until death alone shall part us.” But later, we say, “God, that vow was a mistake. Surely You will not hold me to that promise.”
Notice what Solomon said in verse 6: “Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands?” God takes our vows very seriously. If you make a promise to God, you better make sure you fulfill it. Stay faithful in your promises.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Money Madness” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.
Derek Kidner, “The Message of Ecclesiastes,” The Bible Speaks Today, ed. J. A. Motyer (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1984), 53-54.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.