Our next practical lesson from Ecclesiastes is this:
14. CHARACTER IS FAR MORE IMPORTANT THAN APPEARANCE.
Ecclesiastes 7:1 - "A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one's birth."
Your appearance is of little importance in comparison with your character and reputation.
15. THE WISE WILL EMBRACE THAT WHICH IS DIVINELY APPOINTED.
Ecclesiastes 7:13,14 - "Consider the work of God; for who can make straight what He has made crooked? In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other, so that man can find out nothing that will come after him."
God has set the standard of morality and man cannot alter such (cf. Isa. 5:20). For example, God has always declared homosexuality to be wrong (cf. Lev. 20:13; I Cor. 6:9,10). No matter how much man tries to justify perverted behavior and make it acceptable (i.e., by trying to "straighten" what God has stated is "crooked"), it will always be wrong. Solomon admits that both prosperity and adversity have their purposes in life (cf. James 1:2-4). Let us accept both as divinely appointed for our lives.
16. SWIFT PUNISHMENT IS A DETERRENT TO EVIL.
Ecclesiastes 8:11 - "Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil."
A serious flaw in our judicial system is the lack of speedy justice. For example, there is little deterrent value to the death penalty if one can stay on death row for many years.
17. ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST.
Ecclesiastes 9:10 - "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going."
The New Testament reiterates this important truth in Colossians 3:23.
18. SEEK GOD EARLY IN LIFE.
Ecclesiastes 12:1 - "Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, 'I have no pleasure in them.'"
Solomon continues to encourage us to remember God as we enjoy our youth (cf. 11:9,10). It is wise to begin seeking God before old age comes (along with its numerous difficulties) and before one is firmly set in ways of immorality. As a youth, strength and optimism are generally at their peak levels. The aging process, which is slow and irreversible, and the trials of life gradually cause them to diminish (cf. 12:2).
19. FEAR GOD & KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS.
Ecclesiastes 12:13,14 - "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all, for God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil."
After all the evidence had been considered, this was Solomon's verdict. True fulfillment is found in: (1) fearing God and (2) keeping His commandments. Both components are needed and the order is significant. Those who do not fear God will not keep His commands--or at least not all of them (cf. John 14:15; I John 5:3). To fear Him is to recognize His power and authority and respect Him for the awesome Being that He is. The final verse supplies another reason for fearing God. Everything will be exposed by God--both good and evil--on that final day (cf. John 5:28,29; II Cor. 5:10). This shows the all-inclusiveness of God's judgment, as well as the reality of life after death.