Ecclesiastes 7 (New International Reader's Version)

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Good Advice About How to Live

1 A good name is better than fine perfume. People can learn more from sobbing when someone dies than from being happy when someone is born. 2 So it's better to go where people are sobbing than to go where people are having a good time. Everyone will die someday. Those who are still living should really think about that. 3 Sadness is good for the heart. That's why sorrow is better than laughter. 4 Those who are wise are found where there is sorrow. But foolish people are found where there is pleasure. 5 Pay attention to a wise man's warning. That's better than listening to the songs of those who are foolish. 6 A foolish person's laughter is like the crackling of thorns burning under a pot. That doesn't have any meaning either. 7 When a wise man takes wealth by force, he becomes foolish. It is sinful to take money from people who want special favors. 8 The end of a matter is better than its beginning. So it's better to be patient than proud. 9 Don't become angry quickly. Anger lives in the hearts of foolish people. 10 Don't say, "Why were things better in the good old days?" It isn't wise to ask that kind of question. 11 Wisdom is a good thing. It's like getting a share of the family wealth. It benefits those who live on this earth. 12 Wisdom provides safety, just as money provides safety. But here's the advantage of wisdom. It guards the lives of those who have it. 13 Think about what God has done. Who can make straight what he has made crooked? 14 When times are good, be happy. But when times are bad, here's something to think about. God has made bad times. He has also made good times. So a man can't find out anything about what's ahead for him. 15 In my meaningless life here's what I've seen. I've seen a godly man dying even though he is godly. And I've seen a sinful man living a long time even though he is sinful. 16 Don't claim to be better than you are. And don't claim to be wiser than you are. Why destroy yourself? 17 Don't be too sinful. And don't be foolish. Why die before your time comes? 18 It's good to hold on to both of those things. Don't let go of either one. A man who has respect for God will avoid going too far in either direction. 19 Wisdom makes one wise man more powerful than ten rulers in a city. 20 There isn't anyone on earth who does only what is right and never sins. 21 Don't pay attention to everything people say. If you do, you might hear your servant calling down a curse on you. 22 Many times you yourself have called down curses on others. Deep down inside, you know that's true. 23 I used wisdom to put all of those things to the test. I said, "I've made up my mind to be wise." But it was more than I could accomplish. 24 No matter what else wisdom may be, it's far away and very deep. Who can find it? 25 So I tried to understand wisdom more completely. I wanted to study it and figure it out. I tried to find out everything I could about it. I tried to understand why it's foolish to be evil. I wanted to see why choosing foolishness is so unwise. 26 A woman who hunts a man down is more painful than death. Her heart is like a trap. Her hands are like chains. A man who pleases God will try to get away from her. But she will trap a sinner. 27 "Look," says the Teacher. "Here's what I've discovered. "I added one thing to another to find out everything I could about wisdom. 28 I searched and searched but found very little. I did find one honest man among a thousand. But I didn't find one honest woman among a thousand. 29 Here's the only other thing I found. God made men honest. But they've made many evil plans."
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