Last week my sister and I went to Pensacola, Florida to attend a Principles Clinic hosted by Pensacola Christian College. We left shortly after the Sunday morning service and arrived in Pensacola late Monday afternoon. The drive time was 19 hours, divided over two days. We arrived in Pensacola exhausted. Unfortunately, we were not finished. The clinic ended Wednesday afternoon so we had to make the 19-hour drive back to our homes. Driving 19 hours had a negative effect on my body; especially my lower right back and legs. There was a time when I could drive from Cincinnati to California without any negative impact on my body. Those were the days. The point that I am driving home is I am not young anymore and life is flying by me quicker than I want. Even at the age of 48, I cannot do the same activities I did in my 20’s. I am reminded what Peter wrote regarding this transition: “For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away” (1 Peter 1:24). Regardless of how great we are today, there is coming a day in which our greatness will fade away.
King Solomon understood this truth more than the average person. No person could match his wisdom, and he accomplished more with his wisdom than any other person. Yet, he comes to the end of his life and he realized all was vanity. He wrote: “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth forever” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-4).
What led the wisest man to ever live write these sobering words? First, he understood that no matter the greatness of the person, his or her accomplishments are soon forgotten after their life had ended. A new generation will come not remembering the contributions of the previous generations. Second, and more consequential, Solomon did not fully understand the purpose of life until the end. He wrote: “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). Solomon lived the second half of his life for himself and not for the Lord. He wasted his wisdom and accomplishments fulfilling his desires and not the Lord’s. Therefore, everything he did would soon be forgotten and meaningless in eternity.
So the question is how can life matter? Life matters and has eternal value and weight when we remember the whole purpose of man is to “fear God, and keep His commandments.” Salvation begins with fearing God. As the song writer penned:
T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear
And Grace, my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Fearing God leads to salvation. Solomon wrote in the Proverbs: “The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil” (Proverbs 19:23). The conversion story of the thief on the cross began with fearing the Lord. Luke wrote: “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:39-43).
Keeping His commandment is evidence of our love for Him. Jesus said: “If ye love me, keep my commandment” (John 14:15). The reason we are commandment keeping is because of our devout love for Him. We do not keep Jesus’ commandment to be saved; rather, because we are saved.
Fearing the Lord and keeping His commandments are evidences of us living for the life to come, where our accomplishments for the glory of God will shine for an eternity. Don’t waste another day living for yourself and coming to the end, realizing you have missed the goal and purpose of life. Make Jesus Christ a priority in your life.