February 7 I Sunday
“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.” —Ecclesiastes 12:13
The fear of the Lord is a recurring theme through Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. There are several shades of meaning in the Hebrew use of the word “fear,” but in later years, Solomon’s voice of experience says with utter conviction to take God’s Word, His promises and His warnings seriously. A casual Christian may take God seriously in confessing their sin and being reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ, but they may not take God seriously in the way they live.
Jesus tells us, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). This is true, but Jesus conditions this by saying, “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39). As Christians, we entrust our lives wholly to Christ. Whoever tries to hang on to their life by living whatever way they please, they will ultimately lose it, but whoever loses their life by submitting it to Christ, they will find true life in Him.
We recognize that God is good and the cross of Christ makes it possible to be forgiven and reconciled to God. But there is also a process going on in which the Holy Spirit brings us to the point of fearing God, which becomes the reference point of our attitudes and behaviours. As a result of the fear of God, we are moved to live with a consciousness of the love of God. As 1 John 4:18 says, “Perfect love drives out fear...” which derives from a loving, committed relationship with Christ.
Solomon’s final words in Ecclesiastes are, “For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). If we choose to live a life independent of God, we live a precarious life with no real anchor for our souls. And if we deliberately keep on sinning, Hebrews 10:26-27 tells us, “…no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment....” The judgment of God gives us dignity by holding us accountable for our deeds, but it should also produce in us fear. We cannot avoid the judgment of God, so it follows that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom —“the duty of all mankind”—which points us back to Him.
For those who believe in Christ, we need not fear His judgment, for we have found forgiveness and life in His name. But out of a wholesome fear of God, we are led on paths of righteousness, and soon discover God’s perfect love is what casts out fear.
Prayer: Almighty God, keep me in a wholesome fear of You. Be the anchor for my soul that leads me in paths of righteousness. Thank You, Lord.