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When you receive a large amount of information, you’re eager to learn the essence of the content. When one of the wisest men who ever lived gives his perspective on life, then you may want to pay attention. If you’re familiar with the book of Ecclesiastes, then you may be tempted to think the author will close his book with existential despair.

Let’s read his perspective:

The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. – Ecclesiastes 12:13

The wisest man who ever lived, taught us that the bottom line is to take God seriously and obey Him. What does it mean to fear God? The fear of God is not being afraid of God, but it is a reverential awe of God that motivates us to please Him and obey Him. Imagine that you’re meeting a distinguished individual for whom you have a great deal of respect. You may not be afraid of the individual, but you want to ensure that you would not do anything to disappoint this person.

Adversity can teach us lessons that we would miss otherwise. C.S. Lewis, in The Problem of Pain, reminds us, “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” The name Job is synonymous with pain and adversity. In his anguish, Job cried out,

But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? – Job 28:1

We may not know the reason for our suffering, but we can learn from our suffering. Perhaps the question we should be asking is not “Why” but “What do you want me to learn?” God graciously answered Job’s question,

And to man He said, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.”  – Job 28:28

God’s advice to Job is the same conclusion we read in Ecclesiastes. The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you have less fear of anything else. If you do not have a healthy fear of God, then you have a tendency to be in bondage to a number of fears. When you see God as He truly is, then His perfect love can eclipse your unhealthy fears. We are to fear God, but not be afraid of Him.

Our fear of God is demonstrated by the second imperative – we are to keep His commandments. A healthy fear of God leads to a spirit of obedience. These are not suggestions – they are commands. Is your life characterized by a healthy fear of God and obedience to His commandments? The motivation is presented in the next verse,

For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:14)

May our lives reflect a life of obedience to Him.

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