February 20, 2014 by Chris French
Out of all the men that have ever lived I would peg Solomon among the Top 10 who knew how to destroy himself. He had so many advantages! His dad chased after God’s heart his entire life! He had access to the wisest men of his day 24/7. He himself was the wisest man ever! But if you read about his life you would see one failure after another. He was looking for the purpose of life, that’s what Ecclesiastes is all about, so he spent a large portion of his life trying different things. He tried wealth, relationships and women. He kept trying women, married 300 of them and had 700 concubines. Despite his envious advantages he still managed to destroy his life so when Solomon says if you go after “unjust gain” it will destroy you it’s a good idea to listen closely, because an expert is speaking.
He says that if a bird watches you make a trap for it the bird won’t go near the trap, but these guys he’s been warning us about all week set the trap for themselves and then run into it (Proverbs 1:17-19)! They’ve been caught up in unjust gain. What’s all this mean to you? You’ve never beat someone in the head with a club, but the definition of unjust gain isn’t limited to clubs and swords. Unjust gain is profiting from someone else’s pain. Now we do that a lot! When you tear someone else down to make yourself look better you’re profiting from their pain. Think about the last shouting match you had with your spouse. Did you say something you knew would hurt them to take the attention from something you had done? You profited from bringing them pain. The profit was getting out of the argument, but it’s still profit. I think the way we usually benefit from someone else’s pain is either taking attention away from ourselves (see above) or bringing attention to ourselves, as in pointing out a friend’s weaknesses so we can point out our own strengths to another friend thus making us look better to that friend and lowering their opinion of the degraded friend.
What situations do you find yourself trying to gain from causing someone else pain?
If you pursue unjust gain you’ll find it and it will destroy you! It seems harmless when you take away the swords and clubs, but stop and think about this for a minute. Say you do belittle your friends to bring one particular friend closer and it works. You’ve systematically taken every other relationship away from your friend. You couldn’t have hurt them worse had you killed them! Say you are able to take the attention away from your mistakes by pointing out a fault in your spouse that causes them pain. If you make a practice of this you won’t be married long. You’ve managed to avoid a confrontation about your faults by pushing the one person away who loved you enough to confront you. Building yourself up on the backs of your friends and family is not the way love works. If you hurt people, however that looks, to make yourself feel better you’re on the road to destruction. That’s not the way love acts! In fact, love shrinks back from hurting others. It goes out of its way to avoid causing others pain. So you can say you love someone, but if you’re causing them pain to make yourself feel better you’ve set a trap for yourself that will destroy you!