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  • Writer's pictureJason Garcia

Excessively Righteous

Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself? (Ecc. 7:16)

People pretend to be all kinds and degrees of righteous. In our pride, we like to give the appearance of wholehearted dedication to God (tithing mint, dill, and cumin), yet in reality we are dedicated to nothing more than...well...appearing godly.

Such have no real inner conviction and become miserable caricatures of righteousness––lengthening hems, broadening phylacteries, giving long-winded, sanctimonious lectures about "washing your hands and dishes" as if your salvation depends on such things (Mk. 7).

The "overly wise" do the same, leaping at every opportunity to impress others with their "great knowledge"––pretentiously making long prayers, dividing churches over hypotheticals, reveling in "foolish and unlearned questions" and "profane and vain babblings" that "eat as doth a canker" (Matt. 23:14; 1 Tim. 6:4; 2 Tim. 2:14, 23).

Those adept in wrangling about "words to no profit" have confused muddy water for deep; equating their tortured interpretations and morbid curiosities with Truth.

This they do to their own destruction (2 Pet. 3:16).

"They build an artificial shell about themselves that keeps them out of touch with reality. They are the 'straight-laced' who finally 'bust a gusset.'" ––Robert Turner

What's the solution? Solomon contrasts genuine fear of God with the "excessively righteous" and "overly wise." He doesn't merely contrast them, but presents true reverence as the very means of escape from "faking it": "He that feareth God shall come forth from them all" (Ecc. 7:18).

I must learn what is truly expected of me by the Lord and hold fast (1 Thess. 5:21). I must ever be aware of my responsibility to God, learn to be honest with myself, and remember no amount of Oscar-worthy performances will fool Him.

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