Ecclesiastes 7:5-6 (ESV)
5 It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise
than to hear the song of fools.
6 For as the crackling of thorns under a pot,
so is the laughter of the fools;
this also is vanity.
To be rebuked is a good thing. What a strange thought for our modern sensitivities. We live in a world of autonomy. We assume that each individual has the perfect right to rule over his own life, making his own decisions, determining his own morality. But God gives us, in his word, a call to actually embrace being rebuked.
Why is rebuke good for us? We are not perfect people. We think and act in ways that oppose God and his ways. And, when we are thinking and acting wrongly, we are quite often the very last ones to notice. But, when we have godly friends, we can hear that we are messing things up and be challenged to change.
On the other hand, if the only friends we have are fools—the biblical term for people who do not know or care about God—we will not have any sort of faithful rebuke. Instead of warning us, fools just laugh right along with us. Solomon, here in Ecclesiastes, tells us that fools laugh and laugh through life. Their laughter at things that they should not laugh at becomes as regular as the crackling of a fire under a cooking pot.
So, the point here is that we need real, wise, godly friends who will tell us that we are messing things up. Such friends are a treasure. Such friends sober us and help us to see the world and our own lives through the lens of reality. But, if we are not careful, we will only surround ourselves with people who giggle along with us as we destroy ourselves.
These verses give us a great example of why we need a good, godly church. We need pastors who will preach the actual word of God to us from the pulpit so that we will know more than just a few principles for life. We need men who show us God’s word and God’s ways so that we will be challenged, encouraged, and rebuked. We also need solid believers to live around us, to know us, and to speak into our lives.
And, Christian, know that God wants you to be this kind of friend too. God does not just want you to have people who will speak into your life. God also wants you to be the kind of person who will lovingly speak into another’s life. When you see a fellow believer in spiritual danger, warn them, gently but firmly, in order to help them to grow and to turn from danger.
Who speaks into your life? Into whose life are you speaking? Are you a committed part of a local church where the word is taught and where lives are shared? These are things you need in order to live in a world that prefers to grin and giggle through life.