The Whole Duty of Man

A lot of us struggle with what the focus of our life should be.  What are we supposed to be doing?  After many years of searching for the answer, I found it where I always do – the Bible.  There are so many verses in the Bible that address this issue but three verses in Ecclesiastes really stand out to me.  Let’s look at this verse:

Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2:11 KJV)

Many of us think that life is about making tremendous sacrifices for  a career and financial success.  We spend countless hours trying to  maintain a career or make money, sacrificing our faith and family life.  We do this thinking that it will bring peace and happiness only to end up with a debilitating illness or losing (or giving up) the career that so much was sacrificed for.  The housing crisis demonstrated how a time of prosperity all came crashing down.  People who had worked themselves to the bone to have houses, cars and lots of material possessions lost everything when the housing market crashed.  The feeling was if you could accumulate a lot a stuff, you would be secure and at peace.  But that didn’t happen.  Why was all that prosperity taken away?  Isn’t that what we were supposed to focus on?  This verse helps me to put it all in perspective:

In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him. (Ecclesiastes 7:14 KJV)

We experience adversity to help us focus on what is really important – God.  There is nothing wrong with working hard and having success but you have to keep your priorities in order.  When you don’t, and things get out of order, use those hard times to return your focus back to what is really important – Him.  Nothing is more important than your relationship with God – nothing else brings peace.

Which brings me to this verse:

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13 KJV)

So simple.  We used to understand this as Americans.  We used to live by it and based a government and culture on doing what is right in the eyes of God.  And we prospered.  Now that we have abandoned those principles, no longer fearing God or keeping his commandments, we are experiencing increasing levels of adversity.  Maybe these troubling times will help us to see that doing God’s will is all that matters – all else is folly.