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March 10, 1992

It All Comes Back to God

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Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole [duty] of man. ECCLESIASTES 12:13
Solomon has just written a book that is chock-full of weighty, often confusing information. He poses tough questions: Why is there corruption in the world? How can God allow evil? What should I do when there’s oppression? And he doesn’t provide many answers, except to say that God knows what’s going on and sooner or later, whoever does bad things is going to be called into account.
But in the end, Solomon does what any good teacher would do after a confusing, thought-provoking lecture—he sums it all up with one succinct statement. “In case you didn’t get it the first time,” he says, “here’s the essence: Fear God, and keep His commands. If you do that, you’ve done everything.”
If we’re wondering what to do with all the information we’ve absorbed as we’ve read Ecclesiastes, this passage leaves no doubt. We are to focus on the person of God and on the content of His Word. That is our whole duty. It’s not part of the answer. It is the answer. These words and God’s person give us the answer to the meaning of life and the context in which to understand what happens in life.
One of Stephen Covey’s “seven habits for highly effective people” is to “start with the end in mind.” The Book of Ecclesiastes might have looked very different if Solomon had done that. Since he didn’t, he resorts to warning us not to make the same mistake. Our duty, he tells us, is to start with the end in mind. Don’t do everything else and then realize you need to fear God. Fear God, and then everything else will fall into place.
Or are you making the same mistake Solomon made? If so, reverse your course today. Do your God-ordained duty: Fear Him and keep His commandments.

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