12:13 - "The conclusion, when all has been heard is, fear God and keep his commandments, because this applies to every person."
I wrapped up a previous post about how King Solomon's conclusion, after having experienced every Earthly possession and desire humanly possible, was that the whole duty of man is to "Fear God and keep his commandments." Ecc 12:13. What does it mean to fear God? What does it mean to keep his commandments?
When pressed, Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God with all of your heart, mind and soul and that the second is like it: to love you neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:36-40). These two are inherently tied together. We see other accounts in scripture where our relationships to each other are referenced in our relationship with God.
Matt 7:1-2 - “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
Please do not get hung up here on how our culture generally plucks this verse out of the passage to try to use it against Christians. That's not the point. Here Jesus was emphasizing that we are expected to treat each other with the same gentleness that we would like God to treat us. In these verses, you could replace the word "judge" with "forgive," "embrace," or "honor." The point is reiterated from the earlier Sermon on the Mount where Jesus says "Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy." You will be held to the same standard to which you hold others.
So if the conclusion of the matter is the fear God, and one way that we are to keep his commandments is by loving each other, we should consider that one of the best ways to draw closer to God is to draw closer to one another. By building community, and by working together to forgo the worldly struggles that haunt us, we begin to put our trust in God. This, in turn, means that we will begin to put our trust in things that are beyond this current life. Solomon had figured out that this life is only temporary in relation to eternity with God. For a visual representation of this, see Francis Chan's rope analogy here. The explanation begins at 1:30 of the video.
To close this thought, here is the parable that Jesus tells about the unmerciful servant. Revisiting many of the same concepts from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus emphasizes that our relationships to one another are to be treated with the same importance as our relationship to God. So remember this when you become impatient with others or feel as though you haven't been treated fairly.
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
TL;DR - Don't be a jerk.
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