13The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
(Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 ESV)
Today we wrap up our study of Ecclesiastes. If we recall, King Solomon opened this book by telling us that he had begun a study of all that took place on earth. He evaluated all the things that mankind does and he noticed that they were all meaningless [Ecclesiastes 1:12-13].
In the final verses of this book King Solomon presents the end of the matter. He has heard everything. There is nothing more for him to study or evaluate. He has discovered that mankind is wasting its time on many pointless endeavors. He has also discovered what mankind should be doing with our lives.
We should fear God and keep His commandments. This is not the first time King Solomon has told us this [Ecclesiastes 3:14; Ecclesiastes 5:7; Ecclesiastes 7:18; Ecclesiastes 8:12-13] but here he presents it as the whole duty of man. Our first and foremost goal in life should be fear (respect, honor) God by keeping His commandments.
Keeping God’s commandments is one way we show reverence for Him. Similarly, a teenager who dismisses his parents rules does not respect and honor his parents.
Note that these are not two separate commandments. They are one. We cannot love God while breaking his commandments. Nor can one simply keep God’s commandments without recognizing Him.
This is exactly what Jesus taught us hundreds of years later. Jesus told us that the most important commandment was to love God [Matthew 22:36-37]. He also taught us that the way we demonstrate that love is to keep His commandments [John 14:15].
God knows everything. He knows if we claim to love Him but do not keep His commandments. He knows if we keep His commandments but don’t love Him. He sees our motives, even though we may think our actions and even motives are secret. They are not. God sees all we do and think. He knows whether our intentions are good or evil.
And He will bring every deed into judgment. While that may happen on this earth, the obvious larger implication regards the next life.
Everyone of us will die and will have to stand before God to give an account of how we lived our lives. For that reason alone, it is wise to live in a way that honors God and gives Him no reason to find fault with us – by keeping His commandments.
We are to enjoy life [Ecclesiastes 8:15], for God wants us to do so. But we should enjoy it within His design.
All that man works for on this earth is ephemeral folly. In the end what we accomplish and what we obtain count for nothing.
But how we live counts for everything.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.