Let Your Words be Few

August 19, 2010

Ecclesiastes 5:1–2 (NAS) — 1 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. 2 Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few.
This passage struck me a few days ago. Often we do things by rote because it’s what we’ve been taught, because it’s what you do for God. This passage challenges that. It says “draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools.” The character is on their way to make a sacrifice, they’re probably pleased with themselves, or they at least think they’re doing the right thing (if only out of obligation). But no. They should listen and hear what God would have them do, hear what God would speak to them, not simply perform their ritual. If they’re not drawing close to God to hear him then, really, “they are doing evil.”
We often act like this. We have ‘religious’ things that we do, things that in the past have brought us close to God, that He would have us do. But at some point we do them just for the sake of doing them. We don’t, as we are about to enter into the sanctuary, draw near to hear God speak. Instead, we just walk in, as always. We pick up the book and read, as always. We wake up and do devotion, as always. We go to church, as always.
The second verse expands on this. It tells us something important about prayer, about communication with God – we should listen first, and then speak, and then make our plea. (Included in this – we should listen first, pray for grandma’s toe second.) God is greater than us;  He’s in heaven and we’re on earth. Perhaps this implies that we need to hear what God has to say far more than He needs to hear us speak. He’s in heaven, He knows what we will say, He knows what we feel and think and plan before we even think of telling Him about it. So we should let our words be few. We should come listening instead of speaking. We should always come near to God and listen for instruction, instead of doing religious things.