“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:  Fear God and keep His commandments—for this is the whole duty of man.”

Ecclesiastes 12:13

Our loving service to the Lord God is easy to remember when it’s boiled down to this one thing.

“Fear God and keep His commandments.”

Nowadays things are so complex.  Truly, the day-and-age of the “shade-tree mechanic” is gone when it comes to automobiles.  And, virtually everything else is so mechanized and computerized anymore that you almost have to be a rocket scientist to function.

Sadly, the same is true when it comes to serving God—or so it seems to the majority.

How often we hear someone say “If only I knew why I’m here” or “If only I knew what God wants.”  But, today’s Manna succinctly summarizes our purpose in this world:  “To fear (Heb. ‘yare’—‘to revere, tremble before, be in awe of, etc.’) God and keep (Heb. ‘shamar’—‘to hedge about as with thorns, guard, protect, take heed, attend to, etc.’) His commandments.”

Although written during the later years of his life when he was plagued by idolatry and immorality, King Solomon knew very well the Jewish Shema in Dt. 6:4-5 that said “Hear, O Israel:  The Lord our God is one Lord—and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and all your might.”

Likewise, when one of the Pharisee’s lawyers asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment, Jesus quoted the Shema and then added the second greatest commandment from Lev. 19:18, which said “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mk. 12:30-31).

Yet, He also took this a step farther and said “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (Jn. 14:15) and then added “And love one another as I have loved you” (Jn. 15:12).  Thus, it’s not just our “fear” or “reverence” of God that motivates us to “keep His commandments;” it’s His Love for us and our love for Him.

Simply put, if we’re serving Him for any other reason than our love for Him—in response to His Love for us—then it’s a farce. . .a sham. . .a perfunctory performance rather that a passionate surrender.  It’s only when we worship/serve Him with delight, not drudgery, that our efforts are pleasing in His sight.

Yes, “our whole duty”—i.e., our whole reason for being—is, as the early church leaders put it, “to love God and enjoy Him forever.”  Glory!!  And, when that’s the daily epitaph of our lives, we need not worry what will be written or said about us after we’re gone.

June 18, 2011