The fool folds his hands and ruins himself. Ecclesiastes 4, verse 5.
What a nugget of brilliance this verse is! Eight tiny words speak a powerful mountain of truth, observation, advice, warning and comfort.
What usually happens to people who fold their arms together and pout? Or how about that guy who stands there with his hands in his pockets, deeply immersed in thought; what happens to him? What happens to the person who spends too much time navel gazing and not enough time ‘doing?’
The overwhelming answer I’m looking for here is “nothing” because nothing usually happens to procrastinators, ponderers and people who sit on their thumbs. Initially, if you want nothing to happen to you, do nothing. In the short run, it works every time. Sure, in a crisis there can be immediate repercussions but not every decision is a crisis and, usually, most result in nothing substantial happening. In the long run, however, you and I both know this isn’t the case. In the long run, people who do nothing when there is something to do or say bring ruin on themselves. Maybe it isn’t the ‘asteroid falling out of the sky on my house’ kind of ruin, and maybe it isn’t even the kind of thing that bears immediate fruit. But the verse is a true warning telling us that inactivity in the face of need is a sure-fire recipe for disaster.
So does this mean that we should butt our heads into other peoples’ business? I mean, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look around and see that people need all kinds of things that we can help with. Does this mean we should inject ourselves into every situation in which we can be of service? Answer: maybe or maybe not. Hold tight for a second before we talk about that.
Or does it mean that we know best? I mean, if someone tries something and fails and we know we could do better, does this mean we should tell them how to do it? Helicopter parents beware. Answer (again): maybe or maybe not. Please still keep holding on.
Finally, does this mean that we shouldn’t take our time to consider things as they come our way? Does this verse condemn contemplating our options? Answer (and you know it): maybe or maybe not.
It’s maybe or maybe not for all these things. The more I believe in the Almighty, the more I see that our choices are usually black and white, yes or no even when they’re nuanced. Yet to get to determining that black and white choice, there are many gray fields to traverse. Maybe you should inject yourself into someone else’s business and maybe you shouldn’t. The situation presents all kinds of options, but what’s the best one? Here’s another gray, nuanced answer as to why that is: it depends. How many times in life have you been frustrated by those two words? I think every kid in America is frustrated by hearing “it depends” from their parents when they’re looking for an up or down nod.
But, yes, maybe it depends. Specifically, it depends on where God is leading you in that decision. Should you butt in or stay out? Should you tell someone of a better way or should you let them find out on their own? Should you consider or shouldn’t you?
It depends on where God is leading you in that decision. I’m simple enough to believe that the best thing to do is usually the thing that God is leading me to do. That can only be discerned by involving Him in the decision. And that involvement takes place through active prayer. Even a procrastinator can do that. In fact, perhaps that is the first, best thing that we should do when we’re faced with choices? It isn’t that tough. “What should I do, Lord?” “Where do you want me to go?” Clear your thoughts, speak calmly, pray, and then listen and watch. Will an answer immediately be revealed? You know the answer: maybe or maybe not. It depends (this time on what He has in store). But one will be revealed and it will always be for good even if it’s tough.
Brilliant but simple concept, don’t you think?
I like to ‘do’ things. Too much of my life has been spent in indecision and procrastination. All too often I’ve been that guy folding his hands and standing around, watching instead of acting. And all too often, nothing happened to me when something good could have. Because of my inaction, when things did happen, usually they weren’t what I had desired. The time for that is past. Since letting God lead me, I find my decisions come better and with much less angst or worry. There’s no need to worry when the Creator of all things is personally involved in how you live your life. He is whether we acknowledge it or not, and whether we believe it or not he really does know what He’s doing. Why not find out now?