Joy in Keeping the Commandments
Who is like a wise man? And who knows the interpretation of a thing? A man’s wisdom makes his face shine, And the sternness of his face is changed. (Ecc 8:1)
Wisdom is a desirable and priceless virtue. But did you expect it to make your face shine with joy?
Most of us would probably picture wisdom as a white-bearded sage giving sensible advice out of his experience treasury. But according to the Bible, wisdom starts with fearing the Lord. When we say we fear the Lord, we express that we respect God and His words. And since we respect God’s words, we keep His commandments.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. (Ps 111:10)
Now Ecclesiastes 8:1 tells us that fearing the Lord and keeping His commandments can make our face shine. The Hebrew word for “shine” is ‘owr and means “to lighten anyone’s countenance” or “to make cheerful.” Hence, we see that godly fear can bring us joy. But how does this work practically? How does keeping the commandments create joy in our lives?
I remember one incident, when I helped an elderly lady carry her grocery bag across the street because it seemed to be so heavy that she had to stop and rest after a few steps. Afterwards, I felt really happy.
The Bible tells us that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength as well as to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mk 12:28-31). I think that Jesus labeled these as the greatest commandments because they encourage us to be proactive. So that’s why I felt joyful when I took the initiative to help the elderly lady—I had done something to help my neighbor.
Today, we may often be unable to experience true joy in our life of faith because we have may have been too passive. Yes, we keep the commandments, but we merely keep them passively—we don’t lie, we don’t steal, we don’t worship idols, etc.
But think about it: what if you walked back into the supermarket to return some extra change that the cashier gave you? What if you offered your classmate to help him with homework that he’s been struggling with? What if you took up the broom whenever you see that the church floor has not been swept for a while?
Give it a try and let me know how you feel.