better off than the living


January 2016 (7)Ecclesiastes 4:1-3

1 I looked again at all the cruelties that are committed under the sun. I just watched, the tears of those maltreated, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. 2 And I reasoned that the dead who are already dead are better off than the living who are still alive. 3 But better than both is he who has not yet been and has not experienced the evil deeds that are committed under the sun.

better off than the living

When the collector examined the society around him, he discovered more oppression and cruelty than he expected. He noticed that not only sometimes, but most times, people get a bad shake from those in power. It leads to suffering, cruelty without check. He concluded that power tends to corrupt, and those under that power live lives that experience the sharp end of that corruption. As a result, he concluded that it would be better not to have lived at all, rather than face such odds at living miserable.

Reading such texts, we have to be aware that this is only part of the argument. Otherwise, the observation could be misapplied, and used to justify things like abortion, genocide, and euthanasia. The collector did not have any of those things in mind, and if he did, he would have lumped them along with the other cruelties the powerful inflict on the powerless. No, his point is that society is broken, and people suffer needlessly all too often. Life is not fair.

LORD, forgive us for being part of a society that is cruel to the weak, and causes suffering. Holy Spirit, make your church a reflection of your gentleness and kindness.

About Jefferson Vann

Jefferson Vann is pastor of Piney Grove Advent Christian Church in Delco, North Carolina. You can contact him at -- !
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