Ecclesiastes 7:18: It is good that you should take hold of this, and from that withhold not your hand, for the one who fears God shall come out from both of them.
There are truths that represent “this and that” in the bible, i.e. two sides of the same coin; seeming opposites, but complementary, if you pay closer attention.
You have people in haste to get to a conclusion, so they stretch certain scriptures that seem to defend a preferred position to a ridiculous conclusion. They ignore or say other scriptures that do not agree with their preferred conclusions mean something else. Rather, what we need is balance.
It is not this or that; but this and that. The preacher in the focus verse said: the one who fears God will come out with both, not reject one for the other, will not stretch a point to the extreme inappropriate conclusion.
The balanced view says that there is a truth on the other side too. While I may not know all things but I am called to be balanced in what I know; with that sense of balance Paul said that he is all things to all men in order to gain some to the course of Christ (1Corinthians 9:18-23).
He has the necessary level of flexibility to engage with different people-groups, to reach out to them where they are that he may win some to Christ. He does not reject one people group for the other, he realised that Christ died for all people (2Corinthians 5:11), in their different shapes and state of life, and all should be reached with the gospel. He refused to go with an air of superiority. In Adam we have a common ground of sin and death and in Christ we have the common ground of the Spirit and life (Romans 8:1-2), we may differ in so many other things.
When Nicodemus came to Jesus praising him for the miracles he was doing, he direct him away from what was happening outside to what can happen inside. He told him: except a man is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God (John 3).
He wanted to help him to transition from his previous knowledge focus in which one super-spiritual being does miracles and everyone else applaud, to realise that the plan of God is that each can be spiritual, born of the Spirit, and also manifest the Spirit.
When James and John came to Jesus asking that he allowed them to sit on the two seats beside him in his kingdom, he shifted their focus from the pleasure of reigning with him to the sacrifice that will entail (Mark 10:35-40).
There are those who focus on the pleasure of being with Christ to the exclusion of the issues of sacrifice. That is not right. And there are those who focus on the sacrifice to the exclusion of all other things. That is also not right.
The two stands for the two sons in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). The first son was all rule and sacrifice, and developed a heart of jealousy when he saw the blessing of sonship on his brother, without him working for it.
He was focused on service while the younger brother focused of pleasure. The younger brother was all about taking what was his before time to his own ruin. One had a servant focus while the other was pleasure focused.
But it should not be either-or; it should be both at the same time. The capacity to bring the two together will constitute what it means for the church to grow to the fullness of the statute of Christ (Ephesians 4:10-16), both serving God and also enjoying the fullness of his possession in the now.
Truth has two sides: the “for and against;” the “now and then,” the “this and that.”
For and against: Christ
Jesus is called the stone of stumbling (Romans 9:33), and rock of offence (1Peter 2:8), but he is also the cornerstone on which the church is built (Matthew 21:42, Ephesians 2:20). Jesus is said to come for the rising and falling of many (Luke 2:34).
Jesus was two different things for the Pharisees and the disciples. He was the end of the road for the reign of the Pharisees (who were against Jesus), for the reign of the old covenant (Romans 10:4) but he is the beginning for the church, for the new covenant.
He is for the rising of people like Peter and James and John into eternal prominent, while the Pharisees go down in history as the bad guys.
In Jesus time and eternity coalesce, beginning and ending meets. He is the beginning and the ending, the alpha and the omega (Revelation 1:8), in him heaven and earth meets, the future and the past are embodied; he redeems us from the past and leads us to a glorious future. He saves us from our sins (Matthew 1:21), and sits us with him on the throne (Ephesians 2:5-7).
The bible says that in him is there fulfilment of the law and the prophets (Mathew 5:17), and releasing grace to us. In him is the fullness of grace and truth, of wisdom and power; in him, on the cross, justice and mercy meets.
Now and then: times and seasons
What is true today may not be true tomorrow, what is right today may be wrong tomorrow. What is appropriate to say today may be inappropriate tomorrow; what you can say to one, discretion teaches you cannot say to another. The book of Ecclesiastes says there is time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).
You “now” is different from you “then” and you in the “future.” Jesus told the disciples that in the world they will have tribulation, that was their “now,” but he said that he has gone to prepare a place for them so that where he is, they will be also (John 14:1-3, 16:33). That’s their guaranteed glorious future.
Peter said that no matter what we go through now, God will soon settle us (1Peter 5:10). Paul said that the God of peace will soon crush the devil under your feet (Romans 16:20).
This and that: Body of Christ
That is truth that had to do with our individuality. Because of the uniqueness of the plans and purpose of God to for each of us, we are inherently unique; while you are “this,” I am “that.” I need to appreciate you and you need to appreciate me. It is not this or that, it is this and that. We are both equally valuable even if we are different in how we express that value. We represent different sides of the multifaceted wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10).
Each of us as parts of the body of Christ has unique gifts (Romans 12:3-8), we have unique expressions of his power and glory; we have the ways we manifest his glorify, the mandate that we get to fulfil. If I do not fit into your plan it does not mean I am misfit; I always fit into Jesus’ plan, since he made me, you did not.
We should celebrate our uniqueness, take our mandate serious. Paul could have regretted being called the minister to the gentiles (such a seemingly inglorious, persecution-ridden undertaking), but he said: I magnify my office; I make it seem like the most important office (Romans 11:13).
- Who do you say that I am? (justraxephonfreelance.wordpress.com)
- Studies in Ecclesiastes: Without God and the gospel we can do no enjoying! (resurrectionjoy.wordpress.com)
- valid arguments for God and Man (followchristtoday.wordpress.com)