Staring Into the Sun With Binoculars (Ceteris paribus part 1)
"Whatesoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might..." (Ecclesiastes 9:10a)
Wow. That can be seriously misconstrued. You could also say, "Just do your best at whatever it is you want to do." Okay. You could also say, "Just do whatever your genes are hardwired to do." There's that. Whatever combination of adenine, guanine, cytosine, thymine tells you by virtue of your DNA (I'm being pedantic). There's one end of the spectrum where Aleister Crowley sums up his eminently anti-Christian (The dark end. He was an occultist/satanist active during World War Two.) philosophy with "Do what thou wilt. That shall be the whole of the law." Not God's law, I assure you. In no way am I equating the Word of God with the word of the devil. That's just stupid. The top verse is Solomon speaking. The rest of it reads "...for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." A quick point: Not sure if he's being as literal as possible in saying that. Only because I still don't have all my facts in a row regarding the state of the afterlife prior to Jesus' life and death.
But the threat of death looms over life. If not now, when? Best to keep one's head high and chin up. Because if Jesus doesn't return before it's our time to go, we will go. It's the before "after" that we're involved in. So, how else can I say it? "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." But do it for God: "Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men." (Ephesians 6:6-7) When Paul talks about "eyeservice", he's referring to acting correctly only when you're being watched. By people. If we go through life, remaining true to ourselves, but not to God, we'll end in being hypocrites. If we go through life, seeking to remain true to God, then ourselves, life will be good. Will it be easy? Maybe after a while, "after that ye have suffered a while..." (1 Peter 5:10) It's all about simplifying the qualifiers to where it's you and God (one), bereft of everything else (zero). God is about unity. But first He's about holiness.
And that's what Ceteris paribus means, in Latin. It means "with all things equal". And as we don't know about or have access to "all things", our focus must be on God. We would qualify a statement (with ceteris paribus) where we're pretty sure we're expressing the truth as brought out under one circumstance only. Like our life. You could center it in for your life if you wanted. If you're willing to irreducibly complicate things, I should say. You would tack on ceteris paribus when you say "not sure about everyone else, but I'm going to do this...". Whatever it may be. More power to you.
"The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matthew 6:22)
The whole of Solomon's chapter in Ecclesiastes reads like a scale that is tipping this way and that. A panorama of opposing forces vying for your life. If you have a minute, check it out. It's powerful and stark and...black and white. ("A living dog is better than a dead lion." verse 4b) He seeks to bring order out of chaos, to frame the messiness of life with something intelligible. And also with hope. Because it goes without saying that, as everything is "under the sun" (verse 3), there could, could be something "over the sun" (?). But for now? "Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart: for God now accepteth thy works." (verse 7, emphasis mine)
"I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all." (verse 11)
"Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath He set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of His chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race." (Psalm 19:4) See, Jesus ran the race before us and showed us how to do it.