Daily Devotion | Day 290
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
An important key for understanding the purpose and main point of a piece of literature is to examine its introduction and conclusion. In today’s opening Scripture, Solomon (who I believe wrote Ecclesiastes) does a good job of signaling to the reader that he is summing up the main point of his work. This summary is crucial, for it gives us a lens for reading Ecclesiastes. With this in mind, let’s look at what God wants to tell us in today’s passage. We will address two important questions, namely (a) What is the duty of man in this world? and (2) Why do our actions matter?
What is the duty of man in this world?
If you’re not sure why you’re in this world and what your duty toward God is, today’s passage is for you. Fortunately, Solomon goes straight to the point. Every man/woman has a duty toward God. The rationale behind this duty is simple. It’s based on the fact that everyone is created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27). In creating us, God is revealed as the source of our existence and well-being. Our duty toward Him ensures that we remain connected to the source of life. Without God, we are lifeless.
Our duty is simple: to fear God and keep His commandments. What Solomon said here is consistent with the rest of the Scriptures. When God created Adam and Eve, He gave them a commandment to keep (Genesis 2:15-16) for their own good. It is important to understand that God gives us commandments because He loves us. Obeying His commandments come with many blessings: spiritual, emotional and physical (see, for example, Proverbs 3:1-23 and John 15:1-14).
To fear God means to behave in a manner which shows your acknowledgement of His sovereignty and your total dependence on Him. Fear of God and love of God go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. The prophet Micah expressed the duty of man toward God as follows: “He [God] hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (6:8).
Why do our actions matter?
Today’s passage says that God shall bring every work to judgment, including every secret thing, good or evil. We can hide our thoughts, actions and motives from people, but not from God (see Hebrews 4:12-13).
God wants us to remember that we are moral agents. This means our actions are based on choices, and our choices have consequences. Because our actions have consequences, God must judge those actions and their worth (good or bad) and determine corresponding rewards. The ‘reward’ can be beneficial (as in the case of the righteous. Here, the extent of the benefit (or lack thereof) depends on the ‘rated quality’ of the work. See 1 Corinthians 3:9-15). Or, the ‘reward’ can mean punishment in the form of an outright forfeiture of God’s kingdom (as in the case of the unrighteous; see 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and Galatians 5:19-21).
To sum up, your life is like a book project. Your choices are like a pen. Everything you do or refuse to do, you’re writing the chapters of your book. God has shown you the way. He has shown you that your works matter. Guided by the Holy Spirit, write a book you will be proud of when you stand before Jesus.
Blessing: May the Lord bless you and cause you to prosper in all your endeavors. In Jesus Name. Amen.
For further study: Mark 12:28-34, John 5:24-29 and Revelation 20:11-15
You have a wonderful insight that I appreciate. Very few people think deeply and at the same time share their thoughts succinctly and clearly. Thank you.
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Thanks for your wonderful words!