What Goes Around Comes Around

We live in a moral universe.

The word moral means relating to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong; ethical. It has to do with justice and with equity.

To live in a moral universe means that there are consequences for everything and these consequences cannot be escaped. Jesus dwelt considerably on this subject and it was a major subject of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus said, “ ‘Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you’ ” (Matthew 7:1, 2). We know that this statement is true because the Majesty of heaven spoke it. Whatever I dish out to you, that is what is going to come back. You may not give it back to me, but whatever I measure out to you is coming back. This principle not only can have some scary consequences, but it can be one of the most exciting things in the world.

Jesus said, “But I say to you, love your enemies.” If I give out love, even to my enemies, that is what is going to come back. Do you want people to bless you or curse you? “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

Here we will examine this subject as it relates to many different situations in which we often find ourselves.


Consider how you have interacted with people and how many blessings you have passed to somebody today. At some time those blessings are going to come back. The same goes for the curses. If we have passed them out today, be sure they will return. We are told what will happen. “Everyone who has been free to condemn or discourage, will in his own experience be brought over the ground where he has caused others to pass; he will feel what they have suffered because of his want of sympathy and tenderness.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 136.

This ground on which we make others pass may not feel that comfortable when we are brought over it ourselves.

The same way that I treat others is going to come back to me. But are we not justified in correcting those that make so many mistakes? Sure, but there is more than one way to correct somebody. It is the manner in which we deal with people who make mistakes that is going to be dealt back to us. An opportunity always comes, for not one of us is perfect and we all need correction.

Ellen White stated, “Frequently the truth and facts are to be plainly spoken to the erring, to make them see and feel their error that they may reform. But this should ever be done with pitying tenderness, not with harshness or severity, but considering one’s own weakness, lest he also be tempted. When the one at fault sees and acknowledges his error, then, instead of grieving him, and seeking to make him feel more deeply, comfort should be given.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 93.

When somebody recognizes they made a mistake, it is not right to grind it in and add to his burdens. If you have to correct somebody, first figure out how you will comfort them when they realize their mistake. When people have erred and realized their mistake, it is not correction they need but comfort. So think it through before you dish it out as it may have a sour taste when it comes back.

Ellen White once told a woman, “If you could see yourself as God sees you, it would be plain to your mind that without a thorough conversion you can never enter the kingdom of God.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 138. That is a sharp rebuke. She went on to point out that what she was doing to other people was going to come back. She contrasted the way this lady was dealing with other people with the way Jesus dealt with those whom He came in contact while in this world. She said, “Bear in mind that whatever measure you mete to others it shall be meted to you again.” Ibid., 139. She continued, “If you would do this, [three character defects mentioned] you would be more cautious in your speech.” Ibid.

Do we need to be more cautious in our speech? Moses one time spoke unadvisedly with his lips and as a result he was prohibited from entering the Promised Land. James 1:19, 20 says, “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” The first thing Ellen White advised this lady was, “If you would realize that the way you measure out to others is going to come back to you, you would be more cautious in your speech.”

Resentment and Apologies

“Christ came into the world to bring all resistance and authority into subjection to Himself. But He did not claim obedience through the strength of argument or the voice of command; He went about doing good and teaching His followers the things which belonged to their peace. He stirred up no strife, He resented no personal injuries.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 139.

Have you ever wondered how Jesus, when people were spitting on Him, slapping Him, beating Him, cursing at Him, and making base remarks about Him in ridicule and sneer, never responded with one contemptuous or reviling word? That was only possible because He harbored no resentment inside. “He resented no personal injuries, but met with meek submission the insults, the false accusations, and the cruel scourging of those who hated Him and condemned Him to death. Christ is our example. His life is a practical illustration of His divine teachings. His character is a living exhibition of the way to do good and overcome evil.” Ibid.

If we hold onto resentment, sooner or later it is going to come out and we will have to make many apologies. The Lord wants to teach us how to live so that there is no apology to make.

The question remains, how to overcome evil? Jesus knew that what you put out comes back. So He just kept sowing and planting the good seed. Many of our problems are caused because we do not know ourselves very well. Inspiration says, “We know but little of our own hearts and have but little sense of our own need of the mercy of God.” Ibid., vol. 5, 246. We do not understand our dire need of the mercy of God, and “This is why we cherish so little of that sweet compassion which Jesus manifests toward us and which we should manifest toward one another.” Ibid., 246, 247.

When we believe that there is somebody else who has some severe character defect, or has done or said something terrible that needs correcting, we need to always remember that we ourselves are weak, sinful, and erring. We need to be careful that we do not pass judgment on somebody else who may not deserve even what we deserve.

Judging Others

In Matthew 7:3, Jesus talks about judging. He says, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?”

This principle is something that can send you and other people toward hell or toward heaven. The devil tempts us to find fault with others. Ellen White had a vision on this very problem, “Last night I was in a sleepless state much of the time. Many representations passed before me. One was a scene in a council meeting where several were present. One man arose and began finding fault with one of his brethren. I looked at the speaker’s garments, and saw that they were very undesirable.

“Another person arose, and began to state his grievance against a fellow laborer. His garments were of another pattern, and they, too, were undesirable. Still another, and another, arose, and uttered words of accusation and condemnation regarding the course of others. Everyone had some trouble to speak of, some fault to find with someone else. All were presenting the defects of Christians who are trying to do something in our world. They declared repeatedly that certain ones were neglecting this or that or the other thing, and so on.

“There was not real order, no polite courtesy, in the meeting. In their anxiety to make others hear, speakers crowded in while others were still talking. Voices were raised, in an effort to make all hear above the din of confusion. …

“After many had spoken, One of authority appeared, and repeated the words: ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged’ (Matthew 7:1). … Christ Himself was present. An expression of painfulness came over His countenance as one after another would come forward, with uncouth dress, to expatiate upon the faults of various members of the church.

“Finally the heavenly Visitant arose. So intent were those present on criticizing their brethren, that it was with reluctance that they gave Him opportunity to speak. He declared that the spirit of criticism, of judging one another, was a source of weakness in the church today. Things are spoken that should never find utterance. Everyone who by word of mouth places an obstruction in the way of a fellow Christian has an account to settle with God.

“With earnest solemnity the Speaker declared: ‘The church is made of many minds, each of whom has an individuality. I gave My life in order that men and women, by divine grace, might blend in revealing a perfect pattern of My character, while at the same time retaining their individuality. No one has the right to destroy or submerge the individuality of any other human mind, by uttering words of criticism and faultfinding and condemnation.’ ” The Upward Look, 216.

Like Jesus

We should ask ourselves how many people we have blessed today with our speech. Guard your conversation and remember that whatever you say today will someday come back. All of our thoughts do not need to be uttered.

Our eternal destiny is determined not by what we profess but by our character. Jesus said, “Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these My brethren, you have done it to Me” (Matthew 24:40, literal translation). When I give bread, He will give to me the Bread of Life. When I give water, He will give to me the Water of Life. When I give to others clothing, He will give to me the garment of His own righteousness. When I visit those who are in prison, He promises to set me free from my bondage in the prison house of sin. This is an eternal, divine law that always works, because God has ordained that this is the way the universe is going to operate.

Are you happy to receive what you have measured out? How are you doing in regard to visiting? Never should a whole week pass without reaching out to those less fortunate. There are those who are sick or shut in that would be blessed by a visit. There are those in prison who are often forgotten who would love a letter. The poor are always around us, as are some who are orphans, or widows, or who are destitute, or who are lame, physically or spiritually. There are people all around who are emotionally crippled who will never make it to the kingdom of heaven unless they get help. You may walk up a mountain trail and find a great big boulder in the path. You may be able to go over it, but a person on crutches cannot. Somebody needs to help him. Paul talks about the emotionally and spiritually crippled in Hebrews 12:13. He says, “Make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated.”

Reach Out to Others

In addition to those who live in broken homes there are those who come from mixed marriages, where one of the spouses has chosen the narrow way while the other is on the broad road. As a result, there are people who are spiritually and emotionally crippled. One person may not be able to solve the world’s problem of those in need, but you can reach out to those whom Jesus puts in your path.

If every family in your church would make a Christian visit every week, what a difference it would make. Churches would come alive. But, if you come to church once a week and then go home and dissect the sermon, the worshipers, and the preacher, you will not have a living church. To have a living church, you have to have a working church. Even without training you can still get started.

  • Pray
  • Be friendly
  • Express sympathy

To express sympathy means you are sympathetic to the feelings of other people. You do not have to agree with their feelings, but you can be sympathetic. If you know how to express sympathy, if you know how to be friendly, and if you know how to pray, you can make a Christian visit. If you have a Bible and can read, and share some encouraging thought, you can bless others with a Christian visit.

Go the Second Mile

What could happen in Adventist churches if every family, every week, was making at least one Christian visit? Remember, as you measure it will be measured to you again. Sometimes the gospel net is cast out and it gathers in “every kind” (Matthew 13:47). Some of the people who are brought into the church have been the most sinful in the world. That was the way it was in the time of the apostle Paul. (Read 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10.) Often those who have been gathered in are judged that they may not be able to hold out and make it. By our passing by on the other side and by our showing coldness and neglect to people who are great sinners, they get discouraged and fall away.

“Often the newly-converted soul has fierce conflicts with established habits or with some special form of temptation and being overcome by some master passion or tendency, he is guilty of indiscretion or actual wrong. … In such cases the instructions of God’s word apply: ‘Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted’ (Galatians 6:1). …

“Unless we cultivate the precious plant of love, we are in danger of becoming narrow, unsympathetic, bigoted and critical, esteeming ourselves to be righteous when we are far from being approved by Christ. Some are uncourteous, abrupt, harsh. These do incalculable harm by their misrepresentation of the loving Saviour.” The Pacific Union Recorder, April 10, 1902.

So what do you do if somebody comes into the church and they are battling with their old habits and trying to overcome, but they slip and fall?

  • Have you felt a burden for the one you saw venturing into forbidden paths? Are you burdened for his/her soul’s salvation?
  • Have you kindly admonished him?
  • Have you wept for him? Do you really feel for him?
  • Have you prayed with him and for him?
  • Have you, by tender words and kindly acts, shown him that you love him?

Jesus says if we will forgive, then we will be forgiven. Without forgiveness we will be lost. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). If I want to receive a pardon from my heavenly Father, I must have a forgiving spirit.

“We are not forgiven because we forgive, but as we forgive. The ground of all forgiveness is found in the unmerited love of God, but by our attitude toward others we show whether we have made that love our own. Wherefore Christ says, ‘With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again’ (Matthew 7:2).” Christ’s Object Lessons, 251.

In Historic Adventism today, we are in dire need of a forgiving spirit. “This talking against others must be stopped among those who profess to be the children of God.” The Review and Herald, April 26, 1892. What we do to others is going to come back to us again, and therefore, we should be careful how we treat one another.

“For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy” (James 2:13). If I want God to be merciful to me, I must show mercy to others. It is not when somebody has done a perfect job that they need to be shown mercy but when they have blown it. That is what mercy is all about. The next time somebody in your family or somebody where you work messes everything up, that is your chance to show mercy. If you are going to develop a merciful character, you are going to do it now before you get to heaven, because in heaven no one will need mercy.

Consider how you would like to be treated in each circumstance and treat others likewise. The most desired behaviors are mercy and love. These attributes may not come back to you immediately, but they will eventually. It is safe to bless people even if they are cursing you. It is safe to love people even if they are your enemies. It is safe to do something good to people, even if they hate you. It is safe to pray for people even if they despitefully use you and persecute you. “He who loves God must love his brother also” (1 John 4:21).

“God will deal with us as we deal with one another.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 6, 93. If you have this sentence memorized, it will help you in your daily life in making decisions.

This principle, “as you measure so it will be measured unto you again,” works in every relationship of life. Especially it works in the home and most especially it works in the marriage relation. If we could learn this principle, the great majority of divorces could be avoided.

Ellen White makes an interesting statement about divorce that has to do with this principle about measuring to others and getting the same thing back. It is about a man named Victor Johnson. “I was shown that Victor Johnson has truly loved his wife. She was dearer to him than any other one upon the earth. When the divorce was in progress, his feelings were intense. He besought his wife to defer the matter. He promised amendment; he promised to not trouble her, but go away and reform. She [his wife] should have eagerly grasped at even that feeble hope that it was possible that he might amend, and even if she had to suffer some time longer, given him another chance. There was an error in still pressing matters forward. Although those who were engaged in the matter thought they were taking the best course, yet, they did not exercise the pitying love toward Victor that Jesus has shown them, and they should have considered that ‘with what measure ye mete’ to others, ‘it shall be measured to you again.’ ” Manuscript Releases, vol. 7, 161.

Ellen White says she should have given him another chance. “You didn’t show him that same pitying love that Jesus has shown toward you. Remember, as you measure so it will be measured to you again. With what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again.”

When you apply this law of forgiveness to your life you are in line to receive a pardon from God. To receive blessing and love and forgiveness in your own life, you must treat others in the same manner. Pray for the Lord to help you measure out what you would want somebody else someday to measure back to you. The Lord has promised to work that miracle in your life.

(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: historic@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Sons and Daughters of Men

As we read the 31st Psalm, many varied thoughts come to mind—everything from the persecution and crucifixion of Jesus to the persecution of God’s faithful that will occur in the last days, to the salvation and safety that God promises to His faithful children.

Clearly, it would be too voluminous to cover each of those topics in a single article. Instead, this article will concentrate on only three words in this Psalm: “sons of men” in verse 19.

“Oh, how great is Your goodness,

Which You have laid up for those who fear You,

Which You have prepared for those who trust in You

In the presence of the sons of men” (Psalm 31:19)!

The word that is translated “sons” occurs almost 5000 times in the OT, as son or sons approximately 3500 times; as children about 1500 times. It is also translated in several other ways, depending on the context of its use.

In this analysis, we will look at its broader use as either sons, daughters, or children.

A variant of the phrase sons of men occurs first in Scripture in Genesis 6.

“Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. And the Lord said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.’ There were giants (bullies or tyrants) on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown” (Genesis 6:1–4).

The word for sons in this text is the same word that is used in Psalm 31:19. The word for daughters is derived from the feminine form of that same Hebrew word. In the plural, either could be translated children.

It is worth noting that even before the flood, two character types had developed and were identified either as sons of God or sons of men. Other terms were applied later to denote the same two groups: sons of righteousness or sons of unrighteousness and similar terms.

The word translated renown in Genesis 6:4 is the same word that is used in Genesis 11:4 referring to those who determined to build themselves a city and a tower on the plain of Shinar whose top was in the heavens to “make a name” for themselves—to become men of renown.

“And they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth’ ” (Genesis 11:4).

It is also the same word used for those who chose to stand with Korah, Dathan, and Abiram when they rebelled against Moses and Aaron. In Numbers 16:2, they are called “men of renown,” men who were well known, men who had made a name for themselves.

“Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown” (Numbers 16:1, 2).

What were these “men of renown,” these sons of men, like? Let’s refer back to Genesis 6:5–7:

“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.’ ”

We know the story of Noah and his family—how only eight persons were saved from the millions, perhaps even a billion, who inhabited the earth at that time.

We can see that these men of renown, these sons—and daughters—of men, were very unrighteous—so much so that God saw that it was necessary to destroy all but eight. Unfortunately, there remained in at least one of those eight a vestige, a trace, of unrighteousness.

“To repeople the desolate earth, which the Flood had so lately swept from its moral corruption, God had preserved but one family, the household of Noah, to whom He had declared, ‘Thee have I seen righteous before Me in this generation’ (Genesis 7:1). Yet in the three sons of Noah was speedily developed the same great distinction seen in the world before the Flood. In Shem, Ham, and Japheth, who were to be the founders of the human race, was foreshadowed the character of their posterity.

“Noah, speaking by divine inspiration, foretold the history of the three great races to spring from these fathers of mankind. Tracing the descendants of Ham, through the son rather than the father, he declared, ‘Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.’ The unnatural crime of Ham [see Genesis 9:21–29] declared that filial reverence [respect that a son has toward his father] had long before been cast from his soul, and it revealed the impiety and vileness of his character. These evil characteristics were perpetuated in Canaan and his posterity, whose continued guilt called upon them the judgments of God.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 117.

What was the result of the unrighteousness of the “founders of the human race”—Ham specifically?

“For a time the descendants of Noah continued to dwell among the mountains where the ark had rested. As their numbers increased, apostasy soon led to division. Those who desired to forget their Creator and to cast off the restraint of His law felt a constant annoyance from the teaching and example of their God-fearing associates, and after a time they decided to separate from the worshipers of God. Accordingly they journeyed to the plain of Shinar, on the banks of the river Euphrates.” Ibid., 118.

The scriptural description of this situation is given in Genesis 11:1–5:

“Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’ They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.’ But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built.”

This effort was undertaken by Nimrod, the son of Canaan and the grandson of Ham. Their reasoning to separate from the descendants of Shem and Japheth reveals much about their character and is an indication of the ultimate fate of mankind as the meeting of time and eternity draws closer and closer. There will be those who leave the path of truth and righteousness (if they were ever even on it) and separate from those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

It was here on the plain of Shinar that the many and varied nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples got their start. This story continues in Genesis 11, beginning with verse 6.

“And the Lord said, ‘Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’ So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:6–9).

We can see from this that those who were scattered abroad over the face of all the earth were descendants of Ham through Canaan. Thus we might conclude that much of the earth was populated by those who did not fear and reverence the God of creation.

“On the other hand, how richly rewarded was Shem’s respect for his father; and what an illustrious line of holy men appears in his posterity! ‘The Lord knoweth the days of the upright,’ ‘and his seed is blessed’ (Psalm 37:18, 26). ‘Know therefore that the Lord thy God He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations’ (Deuteronomy 7:9).” Op. cit., 118.

Out of this illustrious line of holy men came David. By this time, the children of God and the children of men were dispersed throughout what we call the Middle East. Conflicts arose between these two groups which continue to this very day.

Even though those who abandoned worship of the true God of heaven turned to lives of sin, wickedness, and idolatry, God still used them—but in a rather unusual way. A warning of such an instance is given in 2 Samuel 7, where God is instructing Nathan to tell David to settle down and build Him a tabernacle. Included in the instructions that God tells Nathan to pass on to David are both uplifting encouragement for the obedient and a straightforward warning against apostasy.

“Moreover I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more; nor shall the sons of wickedness oppress them anymore, as previously, since the time that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel, and have caused you to rest from all your enemies. Also the Lord tells you that He will make you a house. ‘When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever’ ” (2 Samuel 7:10–13).

Now notice what God says in verse 14:

“ ‘I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.’ According to all these words and according to all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.”

It is interesting to note in these verses the different terms Scripture uses for sons of God and sons of men: “My people Israel” and “sons of wickedness,” respectively.

There are many other instances in Scripture where God used the sons of men to chastise the children of God because of their apostasy.  The initial captivity of the Israelites by the Assyrians is probably the best known example. Their continued harassment by the Philistines is another.

An interesting and telling bit of the character of the sons of men is given in Psalm 4:2: “How long, O you sons of men, Will you turn My glory to shame? How long will you love worthlessness and seek falsehood?”

Two distinct characteristics are given here of the sons of men. They “love worthlessness” and “seek falsehood.”

The sons of men, according to Psalm 4:2, not only love vane, empty, worthless pursuits, but they seek out lies. In a broad sense, is this not a description of the broad-road churches of today? They would be offended if you openly accused them of loving worthlessness and seeking falsehood, but isn’t that what they are doing with their Sunday worship and what Inspiration calls “the senseless mummery” of the mass?

“The Scriptural ordinance of the Lord’s Supper had been supplanted by the idolatrous sacrifice of the mass. Papal priests pretended, by their senseless mummery, to convert the simple bread and wine into the actual ‘body and blood of Christ’ (1 Corinthians 10:16).With blasphemous presumption, they openly claimed the power of creating God, the Creator of all things. Christians were required, on pain of death, to avow their faith in this horrible, Heaven-insulting heresy,” this love of worthlessness and seeking of falsehood. The Great Controversy, 59.

Solomon had a great deal to say about the vanity—the worthlessness, the emptiness—of the pursuits of the sons of men. Although those he wrote about were by birth sons of God, they, too—like the ones his father had written about earlier, had in character become sons of men.

“I said in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure’; but surely, this also was vanity. I said of laughter—‘Madness!’; and of mirth, ‘What does it accomplish?’ I searched in my heart how to gratify my flesh with wine, while guiding my heart with wisdom, and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the sons of men to do under heaven all the days of their lives. I made my works great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards. I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made myself water pools from which to water the growing trees of the grove. I acquired male and female servants, and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were in Jerusalem before me. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and of the provinces. I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men, and musical instruments of all kinds” (Ecclesiastes 2:1–8).

As we read these thoughts of Solomon, it becomes clear why he ended his words of wisdom as he did. First let’s look at a couple of other bits of his wisdom.

“Moreover I saw under the sun: In the place of judgment, wickedness was there; and in the place of righteousness, iniquity was there. I said in my heart, ‘God shall judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.’ I said in my heart, ‘Concerning the condition of the sons of men, God tests them, that they may see that they themselves are like animals.’ For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 3:16–19).

The word that is translated in verse 18 as tests in the New King James is translated manifests in the King James. Strong’s definition indicates that the original Hebrew word implies that God reveals them to themselves. He puts men in situations to reveal to themselves their true character.

The wise man continues to lament the condition of the sons of men in 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.”

If sentence against an evil work were speedily executed, if we were made to realize immediately the consequences of evil actions by the swift execution of punishment, perhaps the evil actions that have become so widespread among the sons of men today would diminish significantly.

It would be tempting as we read through the book of Ecclesiastes to conclude that Solomon had become a bitter old man. However, in closing his polemic on the vanity of life and the condition of the sons of men, Solomon reaches this grand conclusion:

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all [or, as the KJV says, “this is the whole duty of man”]. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14).

As we approach the meeting of time and eternity, it becomes clear when we engage in a serious study of God’s word and His will for us that we must understand the differentiating aspects of the character of the two classes of people who will exist when that time comes. We can only gain that understanding by digging deeply into God’s word to determine whether our behavior identifies us as a child of God or a child of man.

The outcome of those who fail to abandon the habits of the sons of men and acquire the character of the sons of God is clearly outlined in Psalm 21:8–10:

“Your hand will find all Your enemies;

Your right hand will find those who hate You.

You shall make them as a fiery oven in the time of Your anger;

the Lord shall swallow them up in His wrath,

and the fire shall devour them.

Their offspring You shall destroy from the earth,

and their descendants from among the sons of men.”

However, a wonderful future lies ahead for those who are determined to become sons of God. Paul clearly understood that when he stated in Galatians 4:4–7, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”

John the revelator also understood the significance of being children of God.

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God, [and we are, (margin)]! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:1, 2).

Then in verse 3, we are told what He is and what we are to become as we overcome those character traits that identify us as sons of men and transition by His grace into sons of God: “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

May the Lord guide us as we seek to become His true children. [All emphasis added.]

All quotes NKJV unless otherwise noted.

John Pearson is the office manager and a board member of Steps to Life. He may be contacted by email at: johnpearson@stepstolife.org.