The Essence of Truth


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.

Ecclesiastes 12:13

Almost everything can be reduced to its pure essence. For instance, a salesman returns from an important call on a prospective client and begins recounting the three-hour meeting for his boss. “Wait . . . wait!” the boss interrupts, waving off the salesman like a carrier deck leader would wave off a jet coming in off the mark. “Did you close the deal or not?” The boss headed straight for the bottom line; he could hear the details later.

Jesus even summarized the entire Old Testament once into two sentences (Matthew 22:36-40). Someone asked him which was the greatest of the commandments, and quoting Deuteronomy 6:5, he replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” He then went further and said there was a second important command: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). “All the Law and the Prophets,” Jesus said, “hang on these two commandments.” 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 probably at least a lifetime’s assignment. Condensing something into its essence doesn’t mean that you leave anything out. Everything written in the Law and the Prophets is still important; it’s just included in the statement, “Love God and love your neighbor.” The essence of something is like the mass of an atom. It’s all there; you 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 of words in his latter years about how confusing life seems when you look at it from man’s perspective. You try this and you try that and it seems to lead nowhere. His conclusion? A shaved head, Generation-X skateboarding disciple would paraphrase Solomon this way: “There’s only one way it all makes sense, dude. It’s all about fearing God and obeying 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.

God’s Promise to You: “Your life purpose will be fulfilled in fearing me and obeying my word.”

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