“Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child, and your princes feast in the morning! Happy are you, O land, when your king is the son of the nobility, and your princes feast at the proper time, for strength, and not for drunkenness! Through sloth the roof sinks in, and through indolence the house leaks. Bread is made for laughter, and wine gladdens life, and money answers everything. Even in your thoughts, do not curse the king, nor in your bedroom curse the rich, for a bird of the air will carry your voice, or some winged creature tell the matter” (Ecc. 10:16-20, ESV).
In this section of Scripture, we are being taught by the writer of Ecclesiastes concerning a nation’s leaders. Today, we can glean some insight as to why we need good, godly, leaders. While the text does not specifically state “godly” as it describes the characteristics of leaders, this is what we need for our nation to thrive. These leaders, described in Ecclesiastes, caused their nations to crumble because of their self-indulgent lifestyle.
These things deeply affect us on American soil, as well as many other nations. When I say we are affected by these things, I am not solely talking about governmental leaders. Leaders on all scales struggle with self-indulgence, just as common people do. None are exempt from the struggle. Whether we are taking about one who is a leader in the home, on the news, in the church or another area, we face the same struggle concerning self-indulgence. Our method of self-indulgence may vary from gluttony, Netflix, social media, alcohol, working too much, or something else.
Self – Indulgent
Clearly, self-indulgence is something many of us know something about. While we might not be princes or kings, we operate as leaders in some capacity. A leader is someone who leads. Even if we lead only one person on a regular basis, this still makes us a leader. The quantity doesn’t make the leader; rather it is the character which makes the leader lead well. It doesn’t matter if it is 1 or 100. Because we are leaders of some kind, we need to heed to the word of God in these verses. This is how we can honor the Lord our God in our leading.
Honestly, I was drawn to the passage, because of one word: “laziness.” As I read these verses, I realize how much God has to teach us in these few words. Laziness has a tendency to disrupt and perhaps even destroy the work and opportunities we have in front of us today, but so can excessively “feasting.”
Today, I want us to focus solely on how we can avoid self-indulgence and the pitfalls accompanying it.
In the family household alone, we see dramatic ramifications due to others’ self-indulgent lifestyle. While debilitating the household and relationships, it places unnecessary pressure on others to pick up our responsibilities.
While he wrote it specifically about royalty in charge of the land, perhaps, Matthew Henry says it best, “How much the happiness of a land depends upon the character of its rulers; it is well or ill with the people according as the princes are good or bad.” The happiness of a household depends on its members and their quality of character. To experience a household consumed with happiness and God-given joy, we need to consider our character and how much we contribute regarding our attitude and behavior.
From Private to Public
The truth is we each are an important member of our family household, in addition to a number of other roles where our character is an important part of the overall leadership. As believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we have much to give. While we may not operate in a specific leadership role, the character we carry into our ministry, jobs, and families are important. This Scripture warns us against self-indulgence. Of which, laziness is only one form.
While laziness is simply one form of it, feasting before work is another. In both of these cases, the private lives of princes and kings stepped into the spotlight and dramatically affected the entire country. The same is true for us as well.
Considering Our Character
Although we anticipate our private lives do not affect our leadership capabilities, it does affect many public areas of our lives. We may secretly hope that our self-indulgence and limited character development isn’t found out by the public or to affect our ministry, while often it does.
As Christians, we need to consider our character. We need to make sure that we put our Lord Jesus Christ first and above all other things. As we put Jesus first, we will hopefully seek to weed out our character flaws by God’s grace. Whether it be, anger, gluttony, laziness, or idle hands, we need to hold it up to God and give it to Him. It’s time we began to look at our private lives, to learn better ways to lead those around us.
“Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness (Ps. 115:1, NIV).”