“Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm,
and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure.
For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter,
though a person may be weighed down by misery.”
Ecclesiastes 8:5-6 (NIV)
I established that there is a specific time and season for every purpose and explained that the word “purpose” as used refers to a wide range of pursuits in our lives. I also established that praying, studying, and meditating on our pursuits help us to correctly discern the right time to act on them. The Scripture portion above makes it even clearer that “there is a proper time and procedure” for every matter. Not only is there a right time for every pursuit, there is a proper procedure – a right way to go about that pursuit, and those who discern the right way are wise in heart.
To be wise means to be a good judge of so many things – times, people, places, methods, and a host of other things. Because life is dynamic and relationships can be complex, it is often not true that having a good intention will get you your desired outcomes. Your good intention may be ill-understood, unwelcome, unappreciated, ill-timed, or improperly executed, thus sending the wrong message to others. It is therefore important, not only to know the right time for every purpose you pursue, but also the right procedure – the best way to achieve your intent.
The verses above were written against a backdrop of a counsel to obey the king (those in authority). Those who obey constituted authorities will come to no harm. This is backed by a good portion of Romans 13, which was written to encourage Christians to be law-abiding. Being law-abiding lends credibility to my faith as a Christian and removes any opportunity for false or unjust accusations against me. Equally important is the need to discern the right time and way to carry out my affairs. An undiscerning person will often walk into trouble innocently (Prov. 22:3, 27:12).
For example, if you want to start an NGO (a “purpose”), it is important to correctly discern when the right time to start the organization is – through prayer, extensive reading and studies, and thorough meditation on current events related to the mission of the organization. And then you must know the right procedure. How should the organization identify? Who should you get involved? The same thing is true about, say, pursuing post-graduate studies. When is the right time? What is the right way? Getting ahead of or lagging the right time can have dire consequences for life.
Correctly discerning the right time and procedure for every activity will ensure our intended purpose is achieved, and we are kept away from unnecessary trouble. There are never easy answers to the twin question of “When” and “How”, but those who need answers will wait on God for clarity and direction. And God always gives wisdom to those who seek from him, whether by directly inspiring ideas in our minds, leading us to godly advisers or closing the doors on opportunities he did not design for us. Somehow, someway, my God always comes through.
For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding (Prov. 2:6)