The Whole Duty of Man
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (ESV) -- The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
People often talk about fulfilling your purpose in life. There are entire industries that exist to help people discover and chase their purpose in life. Even Christians struggle with the question of what God wants from their lives. People often look for very specific answers to this. “Does God want me to be a schoolteacher or an accountant?” “Does God want me to go to this university or that university?” We often look for the pinpoint answers to decisions we have to make in life. This is good. It honors God. But we often miss the basic things that God has revealed about what He wants from us.
The passage today is a perfect example of God clearly spelling out His desires for our lives. The writer of Ecclesiastes says, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”
The duties that God requires in this passage are: fear God and keep His commandments. The writer says this sums up the whole duty of man. What does he mean? He means that we should have what pleases God and honors Him at the forefront of our minds. We fear Him. We revere who He is and it shows by the way we live. We keep His commandments. We recognize that our lives are not our own. We belong to God. He is our Creator and Redeemer. This means that we follow what He says and live under His expectations of us.
The battles we face over what job to take or what college to attend are secondary issues to fearing God and obeying Him. It doesn’t matter what job we take if we’re not following God on the main issues of life. Does your life reflect these things? Do you fear the LORD and seek to honor Him in all you do? Are you mindful of His commands at all times? Do you guard your mouth, thoughts, and actions considering His desires for you? This is what God requires. This honors Him. This is the whole duty of man.
Reflection & Journal:
- What does this passage teach us about what really matters?
- Why are all other pursuits summarized under “fear God and obey His commands”?
- How should our lives look today in light of this passage?
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