Question:

Good morning,

Can you please help clarify the meaning of what Solomon meant by what he wrote in Ecclesiastes 7:16? Is there such thing as being "too righteous"?

I ask this because I am the manager of small retail store. Recently, while I was on my shift, three men who were tattooed with gang signs all over their face and bodies entered my store. The three of them looked very suspicious and after careful watch, I saw them steal merchandise from our store. But I also saw what appeared to be a weapon (gun) on one of the males. For a brief moment I was intimidated and looked the other way as if I saw nothing. The three men left the store, and I did nothing but stand by and watch them get away with our merchandise as they casually walked out the front entrance. Fearing that if I reported them to the police, perhaps the gang would come after me or my employees for reporting them. I let fear take control of me and now question if what I did was wrong in the eyes of God.

Does Ecclesiastes 7:16 mean that God does not expect us to be righteous at certain times such as in my case? I am also aware of James 4:17. Did I commit sin by not telling these men something? After all, God commands, "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."

Please help me understand if what I did was transgression in the sight of God. That I may know how to conduct myself as a Christian next time I face a certain circumstance. May God bless you always.


Answer:

Ecclesiastes 7:16 is talking about people trying to make more rules than God. See: Extremes.

The problem is that by doing nothing, you encouraged these three men to continue to sin. "Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" (Ecclesiastes 8:11). You could have politely mentioned that God doesn't approve of stealing. Granted, they would not likely listen, but the fact that you made it clear that you saw them can be a deterrent from carrying out the theft. You looking away just told them that you didn't care.

Yes, the theft should be reported to the police. They are the best to handle thugs with guns. You can't control how people might react, but you can take a stand for righteousness. You are protecting your fellow store owners and, hopefully, your own employees from future robberies. You are also setting the example to other people to not be intimidated by evil. Being gracious to an evil man will not change him. "Let grace be shown to the wicked, yet he will not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness he will deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the LORD" (Isaiah 26:10). If the wicked take revenge, well, God will step in to settle matters.