Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty man.Ecclesiastes 12:13b
This verse reveals the secret of wholeness. To
fear God and keep his commandments is to learn to be and to discover the secret of being a whole person. Who does not want that? We all want to be whole persons—not broken, fragmented, easily upset, erratic, going off in all directions at once, but stable, controlled, balanced, whole people. Here is the secret of it.
Everything hangs upon that word fear. This is a difficult word for us to comprehend. Most of us think of it in terms of abject terror, of running from God, of seeing Him as a threat, but that is never the biblical meaning of the word. I have put it in the form of an acrostic to make it easier for us to remember what the elements of fearing God include.
First, F stands for faith in His existence. You cannot come to God unless you know He is there. Hebrews 11:6 says,
Anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. There is where fear begins: faith that God exists. The whole of the created universe is shouting that at us. All the inner responses of our heart are confirming it. The Word of God declares it. History confirms it. There is a world of evidence that God is there.
Then E: experience of His grace. You never can properly fear God until you have learned what kind of a God He is. He is a God of mercy, of grace, of forgiveness. Until you have stood before Him and felt your guilt, acknowledged it, known you were wrong and corrupt, and heard Him say in your inner heart,
Neither do I condemn you... Go now and leave your life of sin (John 8:11), you will never be able to properly fear God. One element of fear is the experience of the wonder of forgiveness, that God forgives and sends you out with a whole new purpose and a new resource available.
That leads to the third element. A: awe at the majesty, the wisdom, and the wonder of God. What a Being He is! What a marvelous mind that can comprehend all the billions of pieces of information in this universe and hold them continually before Him, that can hear every voice and relate to every person who has ever lived! What a marvelous God! Awe at the sense of His majesty, His comprehensiveness, His unfailing wisdom and power, is part of fearing God.
The last letter, R, stands for resolve. Resolve to do what He says, to
keep His commandments, as the Searcher puts it here. There are only two commandments; Jesus Himself said that. All the law and the writings can be reduced to two simple things:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37). That is in response to His love already shown to you; love Him because He first loved you. And second,
Love your neighbor as yourself. That's it. As Micah put it,
What does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8).
Thank You, Lord for this great book, which has taught me many things, foremost of which is to fear You and keep Your commandments.
We all desire to be complete and whole in all areas of our lives. But what is the secret of this wholeness? What does it mean to fear God and how are we to do it?