Too often we approach worship without anymore thought than is necessary. Sometimes I attend church with a “gotta be here” attitude. Looking around the sanctuary it is easy to see others with the same attitude. It’s like being on a train heading for a destination. The passengers neither drive or navigate so they find things to do to occupy time. Some are looking at their phones or reading while others simply stare out the window or nap. At the end of the trip everyone gets off the train and go about their lives. If it was a safe trip, nothing about the travel changes the passengers life. The same happens after Sunday service.
I encountered this passage while skimming through the Bible and it caused me to stop and take notice. These words written by Solomon could easily apply to many of us today.
Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut. It is evil to make mindless offerings to God. 2 Don’t make rash promises, and don’t be hasty in bringing matters before God. After all, God is in heaven, and you are here on earth. So let your words be few.
3 Too much activity gives you restless dreams; too many words make you a fool.
4 When you make a promise to God, don’t delay in following through, for God takes no pleasure in fools. Keep all the promises you make to him. 5 It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it. 6 Don’t let your mouth make you sin. And don’t defend yourself by telling the Temple messenger that the promise you made was a mistake. That would make God angry, and he might wipe out everything you have achieved.
7 Talk is cheap, like daydreams and other useless activities. Fear God instead.
The straight talk is to approach God with reverence. Entering into the house of God is to enter His presence. This should be done with great respect. It is easy to make church service about something to check off a to do list. What would church look like if we entered expecting to encounter God?
Verse 2 reminds us that God is in heaven and we are on earth. It is exciting to realize that by approaching God in a proper way we have the opportunity to see things from His perspective. Think about that! By entering God’s presence we can see our “giant” problems as the insignificant issues they really are. In addition to that we have the ability to view others from a place of love. From such a profound vantage point our lives would have to change!
It is a common human issue to fill our lives with business. All our daily fret and worry only interrupts our sleep at night and causes dreams that rob us of rest. That could be the reason some can’t stay awake through a sermon.
Have you ever made a promise to God without following through? Many have promised to go to church or start tithing or read their Bible if God would only help them. It is much better to not make a promise to God than to break a promise made. Verse 7 states plainly ‘Talk is cheap, like daydreams and other useless activities. Fear God instead.’ Fearing God is not about hiding and cowering from Him rather it is about having extreme respect and reverence for the Lord.
A practical tip is to pray before you head to church and prepare your mind for worship. By doing that we are not prone to make rash requests or emotionally based promises to our Lord. Best of all we can truly enter the presence of God.
Rev. Burt Schwab