“Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” — Ecclesiastes 12:13 (KJV)
It’s not easy to stay focused. Attention is a limited resource. Every time our phones ding, bing, and vibrate it’s a pull for our attention. These constant distractions knock us off track, and it takes quite a bit of effort to regain focus and get back on track once that initial attention is lost. Our attention is being used at an incredible rate, making it harder and harder to focus on the things that require great attention, like our spiritual, physical and emotional health.
It’s a lot easier for me to neglect the important things in order to finish whatever is right in my face. It’s hard to think long-term! If I do this today, what impact will that have for me when I’m older? Reading XYZ book was great, but how do I apply its principles to reach the pinnacle of my spiritual health? How do I actually live out what I’m reading in my Bible? This stuff requires attention on the big things — a concentrated effort on our duty as humans!
This short verse simply reminds me what life’s all about. Where are my thoughts leading me? Am I fulfilling my duty as a husband, friend, brother and all-around man? Does my life emulate the teachings of Jesus and His Word? If it doesn’t, then why am I wasting my time with it?
I just wish I had that plastered somewhere I could see it every day. If only it were that easy!
But there’s more to it than that. This whole chapter in Ecclesiastes is filled with pointers and nuggets of deep wisdom that need to be reminisced and thought upon. It’s just incredible the story of this young king, Solomon, and his journey to wise living. For me, it’s very hard to focus on the negatives. I identify my weaknesses, develop habits to strengthen and better my rough techniques, and then work to execute the new habits I need to be successful. So when I look at Solomon’s life, it’s easy to see that the man fell a little too fond of women. He had like a thousand wives … and hundreds of concubines.
I’m married to the most patient, caring, thoughtful and cheerful woman I’ve ever met. Even with her Proverbs 31-like heart, it’s still a little daunting to consider having that many women around in one lifetime. I mean … c’mon! That’s like a millennium’s worth of estrogen in one man’s short lifetime. One can only imagine the drama that man experienced. Talk about a test of wisdom.
But even with these difficulties and mistakes, Solomon’s wisdom is lasting and beneficial for all (that’s why it’s in the Book). It stands the tests of time. The same things I struggle with were being struggled with by people thousands and thousands of years ago. The very same issues. That’s just incredible.
So as I reflect on this verse, another thought comes to mind:
“Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do… Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.” — Ecclesiastes 9:7;10 (ESV)
When my heart aligns with fear, love and awe for God, I will complete what He wants me to do. How do I know? Because He wants my heart! He wants me, just as He made me — with all the bumps, bruises, scrapes and cuts; all the sin and darkness overflowing; and with no idea where to run to. He wants to know that I choose Him over the world. When I’m absorbed in the Giver, the gifts can be enjoyed. My worth is not in what I gain, but what He’s given me already.
Rest in the One who gives everything and enjoy all that He has given. Don’t sit on what isn’t; rest in what is and be thankful for it. Fear God. Remember why He is to be feared.
— David Ledbetter
David Ledbetter pitched for the Round Rock Express (AAA affiliate for the Texas Rangers) in 2017 and is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.
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