Ecclesiastes 12.13 concludes, having heard everything, I have reached this conclusion: Fear God and keep his commandments, because this is the whole duty of man.
The Bible’s version of the wisest man in the world summarizes his study of the human condition with these words from Ecclesiastes. To summarize Solomon, the chief purpose of humanity is to fear God and obey His commands. Not very sexy. Not very exciting. Not really about me and my wants, needs or desires. Why might this be true regardless of how it makes me feel?
If the Bible is true, that we are made by God, and will return to God, to give an account of how we lived for God, we should fear God and obey His commands. Let me summarize, since God made us and because God will judge us we ought to fear God and obey His commands. Simple to understand really.
The purpose for fearing God is because we must stand in judgement before God. There is something fearful at being called in before the principal, the boss, the judge, not to mention God. Most of us detest accountability. God promises to hold us all accountable for how we lived our lives. This should cause us to fear Him for He will measure us by His standard and reward or condemn us based upon that standard. As God, He has all power to decide our fate and all capability to carry out that fate.
Fear is healthy when we lack other motives for doing what is right. God is good and God is loving so He has told us what we must do to please Him. Pleasing God means getting through the accountability portion of judgement in order to enter into the reward portion. Reward is always better than punishment. The obedient are rewarded and the disobedient condemned.
We have the same system here. Obey the laws and the government is pretty unobtrusive to our lives. Disobey the laws and the government is a constant thorn in our side increasingly removing freedom from our lives. While most of the man-made gods are tough and demanding, the One True God is humble and gentle and so has chosen not to burden us with a yoke He Himself is not willing to pull along side of us.
God has summarized His commands to loving Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as our-self. Simple really, not too complicated nor too difficult if we are humble. It is not hard to love Him Who is love and Who is good. Yet if we don’t trust that He knows what is best for us as the Creator of us, then we will question His rules and ways and limit our love for Him to a feeling rather than the love He requires which is obedience.
Loving God is submitting ourselves to the Word of God so that we can do the will of God. Obedience is God’s yardstick for measuring love. We do the same thing really. We interpret our spouse and children’s actions of ‘obedience’ as love for us. People who intentionally do what displeases us we immediately interpret as having a non loving attitude toward us. God is not a lot different and neither should we expect that His accountability of us will be measured much differently.
Life then can be summarized as a journey of knowing God so we can love God by doing what God commands. When we live this way we will find our lives work best, have the most meaning and are increasingly filled with hope as we look forward to that day when we will finally see our greatest love face to face.