The Essence of Truth
The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.
~ Ecclesiastes 12:13
Most things can be reduced to their essence. To illustrate, read this conversation that took place at a small Midwestern manufacturing firm.
“Good Morning, Carter. How was the trip?”
“Fine, Fine. But you wouldn’t believe what I had to go through to get there. First, the airport was jammed. My flight was filled to capacity, and we waited on the ground for almost 45 minutes while they de-iced the plane. Because of that, I made a mad dash across O’Hare to make the next plane. When I got to Atlanta . . .”
“Hold on . . . wait!” the boss interrupts, waving his arms like a carrier deck leader waving off a jet on a bad approach. “Did you close the deal or not?”
The boss headed straight for the bottom line; he could hear the details later. Jesus had a knack for cutting through the details as well. He once summarized the entire Old Testament law in two sentences, saying, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37–40). That’s it? In a manner of speaking, yes. But look what “it” is: Love God and love your neighbor. For the average person, that’s a lifetime’s assignment.
Condensing something into its essence doesn’t mean leaving anything out. The essence of something is like the mass of an atom. It’s all there; we just can’t see it.
Perhaps the most famous condensation of truth found in the Old Testament occurs in Ecclesiastes 12:13. Solomon had written a lot in his latter years about how confusing life seems when you look at it from a human perspective. His conclusion is complex enough for the subject of a theological dissertation, yet simple enough for anyone to comprehend: “Fear God and keep his commandments.”
When life gets confusing and hard to decipher, don’t reach too high. Just head for the bottom line of the spiritual life like Solomon did: Fear and obey God.
Lord, help me to always remember that my life purpose will be fulfilled in fearing You and obeying Your Word. Amen.
~ Ken Boa
Dr. Boa is devoted to a ministry of relational evangelism and discipleship, teaching, writing, and speaking. He holds a B.S. in astronomy from Case Institute of Technology, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary, a Ph.D. from New York University, and a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford in England.