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Ecclesiastes 7 (New Living Translation)

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1 A good reputation is more valuable than the most expensive perfume. In the same way, the day you die is better than the day you are born. 2 It is better to spend your time at funerals than at festivals. For you are going to die, and you should think about it while there is still time. 3 Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us. 4 A wise person thinks much about death, while the fool thinks only about having a good time now. 5 It is better to be criticized by a wise person than to be praised by a fool! 6 Indeed, a fool's laughter is quickly gone, like thorns crackling in a fire. This also is meaningless. 7 Extortion turns wise people into fools, and bribes corrupt the heart. 8 Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride. 9 Don't be quick-tempered, for anger is the friend of fools. 10 Don't long for "the good old days," for you don't know whether they were any better than today. 11 Being wise is as good as being rich; in fact, it is better. 12 Wisdom or money can get you almost anything, but it's important to know that only wisdom can save your life. 13 Notice the way God does things; then fall into line. Don't fight the ways of God, for who can straighten out what he has made crooked? 14 Enjoy prosperity while you can. But when hard times strike, realize that both come from God. That way you will realize that nothing is certain in this life. 15 In this meaningless life, I have seen everything, including the fact that some good people die young and some wicked people live on and on. 16 So don't be too good or too wise! Why destroy yourself? 17 On the other hand, don't be too wicked either -- don't be a fool! Why should you die before your time? 18 So try to walk a middle course -- but those who fear God will succeed either way. 19 A wise person is stronger than the ten leading citizens of a town! 20 There is not a single person in all the earth who is always good and never sins. 21 Don't eavesdrop on others -- you may hear your servant laughing at you. 22 For you know how often you yourself have laughed at others. 23 All along I have tried my best to let wisdom guide my thoughts and actions. I said to myself, "I am determined to be wise." But it didn't really work. 24 Wisdom is always distant and very difficult to find. 25 I searched everywhere, determined to find wisdom and to understand the reason for things. I was determined to prove to myself that wickedness is stupid and that foolishness is madness. 26 I discovered that a seductive woman is more bitter than death. Her passion is a trap, and her soft hands will bind you. Those who please God will escape from her, but sinners will be caught in her snare. 27 "This is my conclusion," says the Teacher. "I came to this result after looking into the matter from every possible angle. 28 Just one out of every thousand men I interviewed can be said to be upright, but not one woman! 29 I discovered that God created people to be upright, but they have each turned to follow their own downward path."
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