Of Love & Order Part 5: Men’s Preparation For Courtship

This world is not a place merely to live in, nor a place in which to do certain kinds of business; it is a great workshop in which to make godly men. J.R. Miller

Prayer makes a godly man and puts within him “the mind of Christ,” the mind of humility, of self-surrender, of service, of pity, and of prayer. If we really pray, we will become more like God, or else we will quit praying. Edward McKendree Bounds

If you want to know if I’m a Godly man, follow me home. Andy Stanley

The Preparation Process
The sad truth in this subject matter is how it is not merely overlooked but not even considered in the first place. Every time one talks about dating or courting, the necessity of preparation should come both as a no-brainer, and principal fact, not as an after-thought. Of course, the act of preparing in and of itself is not appealing because of the gruesome stages that take place. The question that needs to be asked is How does one expect to succeed in a season they are about to enter if they are not prepared for it? In the same way that the transition to manhood from boyhood requires preparation so does the transition from singleness to courtship.

The following points are taken from this video which I found very insightful and are thus repackaged to be presented from my point of view. You are free to see the original content before continuing here or compare what I say to the video’s after you are done here.

The three questions to answer during your period of preparation as a Godly man are:

  1. Who am I as a man?
  2. Whose am I as a person?
  3. What do I have to offer?

Before getting into them understand that the preparation process for anything is the absolute longest in one’s lifetime. How many hours, days, weeks and months do you need when preparing for an exam? How many years of education and knowledge do you go through before pursuing your profession? Moses went through 40 years of preparation before he was able to lead the nation of Israel. John the Baptist did 15 years before he began his ministry and Jesus went through 30 years of preparation before He started His ministry. No matter what point in your life you meet your Godly woman, you are to prepare yourself for her.

Who am I as a man?
One of my favourite authors on the subject of manhood is John Eldredge who did an amazing job at defining who we are as men. There are loads of nuggets I picked up from his book. Here are some points from it and other resources I gathered.

There are plenty of males in this world, but very few men– Aimanvir Jhawar.

Being a man according to the world

What does one have to do? Well, all you need is a driver’s license at eighteen, the right to leave school at sixteen, an opportunity to join the army, permission to buy cigarettes and beer, admission to a pub and movies with age restrictions, pornographic books, and films etc.

That means to be a man you should be able to control a powerful machine, to kill others (the army), to masturbate, to destroy lungs and to get drunk and to have as much sex as possible.

Talk about a warped view-so far from what God intended! What about Christian men? How are they to live up to God’s standards for man? It is obvious you cannot hit a target you cannot see, neither can you reach your destination without a map and compass. So what Christian males need to do is transition to manhood from boyhood. The only thing is that they are not taken through the practical aspects of being a Christian boy, only theory from motivating stories in the Bible at Sunday school. Were the stories just there for fun? Were they something someone imagined as fiction, wrote it and left it alone? Certainly not! The process of masculinity is very seldom taught to Christian boys who need to grow up to be men.

The young boys in families, especially the youngest, is deemed to be “man of the house,” which also applies to boys in families consisting only of girls apart from themselves. In the mind of a boy, what does being a man entail?

What Christians have defined as a man
Men are shaped into various forms of pressure. They are told of the man they ought to be and sometimes that is presented as the man they are.  They are taught, “This is what a good husband/father/Christian/churchgoer ought to do. He is responsible, sensitive, disciplined, faithful, diligent, dutiful etc. These are good qualities. They have very good intentions. Remember, though, that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The problem with these qualities is that they imply that a man is defined by what he does so that apart from them he is not a man. A person portrays who they are by what they do. Being responsible-amongst other things-are qualities that come as a result of already being a man, not (necessarily) to start becoming one. We are created to be human beings, not human doings.

The very crucial truth that needs to be grasped here is that men were not created to be domesticated.

The major problem with the general understanding (the popular belief) of what a man is, ignores what is deep and true to a man’s heart, his real passion. Men need something else. A deeper understanding of why they long for adventure and battles and a Beauty-and why God made them just like that. They need a deeper understanding of why women long to be fought for, to be swept up into adventure, and to be the Beauty. For that is how God made them as well.

In essence, men were created to live in adventure, that is why we go “looking for trouble”. It all comes down to the thrill of being the warrior that wears the crown of fulfillment, bearing the mark of a victor in his heart, all to accomplish one impactful purpose in his entire life: rescue the beauty.

Outside of that frame that encompasses everything a man is, a never ending search for his heart will cause him to fail to operate in his full capacity.

Whose am I as a person?
Very few people in the world know you better than you know yourself. One thing I love to say is that your life is a pizza box, it is made up of so many pieces. You have business/career, relationship/marital, recreational/fun time, workout/training, legacy, community, spiritual, and personal life. Balancing every aspect of these portions of life is crucial. I know a lot of gym fanatics whose whole lives are centered on fitness. Unless it is their job, that deprives them of living life as a complete being, the way they were created to be. Discovering who you are as a person first will help you set standards for recognizing whose you are. I recently heard a song with lines that said “kissing strangers till I find the one I love,” which saddened me because I realized there are people who search for love that desperately. The most important Person you are to belong to first and foremost is God, Who will guide, equip and prepare you for the woman who will be the right fit for you.

What do I have to offer?
Everything that embodies you as a man is unique and valuable to the right person. There are some people who will use you for your gifts, brain, personality, connections, prestige and so on, but to that one special individual, you will be appreciated for who you are, just as you are. With that in mind, know that you have more to offer than you realize. It transcends the general view of what a man is to the bigger picture. It relates to what you offer as a genuine article. You impact people in ways you might never know. You change the world of that one person who will always remember you. Your seemingly trivial talents or the ones you view in that manner, impress others and inspire them to pursue their passion. It comes down to thinking highly of everything you are as a man which impacts everything you do, that in turn, will have huge significance on the very character whose life blossoms in your field.

Conclusion
Breaking away from worldly standards for a man and, in general, learning to question popular thinking will enable you to search for truth in the correct places. When more time and resources are spent preparing for a wedding than for marriage, careful thought is to be given to that. Preparing yourself for courtship principally requires you to understand why before you consider how. When you progress through each day remember that every beauty is to be rescued by the right hero, her hero! Will you be the one?

 

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Of Love & Order Part 4: What Dating With Purpose Means To Me

 

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“Your love is as stable as you are: It’s not about how good a person makes you feel, but rather what good you can do for them.” Criss Jami, Killosophy

“God will bring the right person into your life at the right time. Always believe that! If they are not there, God isn’t finished yet!” Shannon L Alder

Courtship is an activity whereby one looses oneself … whilst trying to win someone’s love.
Mokokoma Mokhonoana

What is dating with purpose?
I love the very thought of this. When you have a purpose, an actual purpose for dating. It implies planning before and during the process. Few people plan how their relationships will turn out. Some plan as soon as their relationships begin, which is realistic, others procrastinate with it. Flipplancy and passivity do not play a part in this portion of an individual’s life at all. It is a precious transition, a valuable progression and treasurable advancement. Not everyone has the chance to be with the one they believe is right for them, let alone get into a relationship in the first place. What baffles me therefore, is how lightly esteemed a unique relationship (those who do have this privilege) is regarded when one considers the overall impact it has in his or her life!

Dating with purpose for me embodies three things:
1) having a strong relationship with God
2) possessing a deep understanding of love
3) establishing necessary barriers for protection

NB: It has to happen in exactly this order

There is no setting up boundaries on the foundation of a worldly influence of love, which occurs as a result of not having a firm grasp on what true love is. Where else or best can you get it other than from the Existence, Epitome and Expression of love itself? At other times, despite having a good relationship with God, your view of love can still be thwarted by the world which can mix the conditions you set for your relationship (through partially sticking to the Word or using it to justify your views) or if you are firm and sure, then there can be a possible failure to be faithful in upholding those conditions. Well, I am certain you know what I am getting at and leave you to consider the consequences of having number 2 in check at the expense of the others.
The main reason for those three things to be in place is because it sets the stage for a life lived with these checkpoints being crossed time and again. Take note that while I will be primarily speaking to those who are either beginning or are currently in the courtship stage, the counsel of the following spans across into other arenas, including marriage.

God is the core center by which your relationship exists (Mark 10:9)
If God is love, why would love be sought for in any other place?  Of course, ignorance has a role in this but apart from that, recognizing the Source of love is  paramount in the journey of a couple’s discovery if you will. The very fact you are together is a direct result of His plans coming together, in the same way you did. Being aware of this is the starting point of a fruitful relationship.

Jesus is the foundation in which your relationship is built (1 Corinthians 3:11)
When you have a strong relationship with God as an individual that naturally transitions into the relationship with your special one. There is that threefold cord that cannot be broken (Ecc 4:12). You essentially form the Triangle of Relationships. It was a term coined by Mike Breen the author of Life Shapes, where at the top stands our relationship with God, the left is our relationship with each other as the Body of Christ and on the right is our role in going on outreach to bring others into the kingdom and thus restore them into a relationship with God. It will look like this.

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From my stand point, however, the threefold cord is about the individual relationship with God; the understanding of oneself with the establishment of a strong identity; with boldness seek the person that God has for him or her, and finally bringing everything together through the foundation laid upon the Word of God. This way the couple gets to enjoy the fruitfulness of their own relationship as it is directed in faith by God, as long as complete confidence and reliance on Him is maintained.

Jesus is the chief cornerstone by which your relationship is sustained.
No doubt times can and will be tough. We are talking about two completely different people joining together in the prospect of sharing a life with each other. With this comes many different things. You have culture, background, beliefs, perceptions of life, opinions on current affairs, religion, education, politics,  finances, sex, drinking (some belive in drinking but not to the point of being drunk while others are against this notion), and world view. There are other elements as well but these are the main ones. It is very easy to be lovey dovey the one minute and the mortal rivals the next. The key thing is to remain in the Word, prayed up and keeping a positive attitude about each other, especially when you argue. Being sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading through good and bad times is what will sustain you. It may not always be easy but it is always worth it. I cannot stress the value of having a firm relationship with God as individuals  first before building one as a couple, becuase trying times will put your words of devotion to the test.

What different people’s interpretation of dating with purpose is.
This brief list of opinions on this term all connect to what I have pointed out in a unique way.

Sean and Brgitte call it a Christ Centered Relationship
Heather Lindsay notes that it’s about putting God first and being lead by Him
Yore and Mekeyas say it’s about having a solid identity then serving the Lord with your partner.
Mercedes and Nonso believe it’s about having a relationship that has a goal and clear expectations.

Conclusion
When you look at it dating with purpose comes down to rooting yourself in Christ and maintaining that relationship (for yourself first) throughout the rest of your life, no matter what happens. When you are certain that you have reached that stage or are close to it, you then pursue a future with the significant other. It is vital to give both yourself and your partner at chance at love that will last. Fleeting pleasures immediately robs you of that opportunity, especially when you prioritize that. Draw a line and determine how far too far is. At what point are the activities you engage in, particularly physical ones, about to reach worldly standards? Keeping these boundaries in check will ensure a long-lasting relationship equipping you well enough to weather any storm.

Of Love & Order part 3B: Looking At Similar Differences

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Courtesy of ginabind.com

Luke 6:37
Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven

Proverbs 15:1
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger

Starting Matters
For as long as I can remember it has always been the popular belief that it’s not really starting that is important but finishing. Most people familiar with the Information Age (where the existence of being misinformed and disinformed increases the challenge with trust in all types of relationships), should respond to that belief in the same way as they would this one: Knowledge is Power, with Who Lied To You? You see your attitude at the beginning of a task determines its outcome more than anything else, therefore how you begin (in general) does in fact impact how you finish. Seeing that applied knowledge is power (impacting the consequences depending on how that power is used), commencing the right way in your relationship can actually greatly influence how it progresses later on. Too many times people are drawn to and seek out similarities as for hidden treasure to the point that differences are perceived as foreign objects!

Making Inadvertent Mistakes
There was a nice dating show that I watched a few years ago. It involved contestants competing in the jungle as automatically paired couples and later in the main ceremony, empowered with the choice to remain with the pair or choose someone else to be paired with. I remember a question in one of the episodes in season 2, I believe it was called Love In The Wild, a couple asked each other this very question which I know is extremely important for discussion:

What are the biggest mistakes men and women make in relationships?
Here is one for each gender that I thought was really interesting. For the men putting someone (or something) ahead of her is a recipe for disaster. I can personally relate to this. My partner (both in prayer and life), my shining light, my deputy commander, my vice captain, the wisdom of my ways and the love of my life, Nelly Sophia is the important individual I made this mistake with. The worst part was that it was an innocent (continual) action that I did not know was a mistake! She loves to talk every night for as long possible on the phone (because we only see each other once a week) and I would be engaging myself in a myriad of activities by the time she calls. From the moment I pick up the phone, part of my mind would be on the activity and the other part on her. Some friction arose every now and then as you can imagine. Sometimes I made the mistake of requesting for a “night off” so to speak completely unaware of the magnitude of what I was asking. Needless to say this created tension through the appearance of disinterest from the lack of attention given. I have learned that masculine energy is single-focused and targeted towards one purpose and goal, as such it is easy to ignore her (the women) and focus attention on somewhere else, particularly if it is work. Being sensitive to and cognizant of her feelings is not merely a habit that must be formed for creating balance, but a vital necessity.

Now for the women, the mistake they make more than any other (at least in my opinion) is being passive aggressive. Here is the thing on my part. There are times when I can pick this up with Nelly but then later take it as it is (simply because that’s what guys do) to avoid unnecessary assumptions. Having grown up with predominantly female friends I have tried to understand the concept of paradoxical terms with female logic. No means Yes, Yes means No, Maybe means No, We need to talk means I need to Complain, Sure go Ahead means I don’t want you To. This is a field I chose not to set foot on (in attempting to understand it) because I realized that life may possibly be complicated. That is definitely so in a relationship and women will do very well to acknowledge the easy-mindedness of the men and how very straightforward every word will be taken. The wisest move is to never under any circumstance be passive aggressive. Ladies say what you mean and mean what you say.

Different Is Not Wrong
To be honest I do not know why I titled the post what it is because I hate it when people use the term “same difference.” I thought I got a handle on it ever since coming across it the first time, but I wanted to really make sure that I had a good grip on it. It actually  is “an idiomatic oxymoron [Oxford Dictionary Online]. It effectively means. Whether these two choices are the same or different is immaterial to me.” There is an element of indifference in that which can spell DANGER should it ever so much as cross the minds of any individual in a relationship. The main factor to consider is that being different is not automatically a bad thing. To perceive it this way puts a whole new meaning to Opposites Attract. I personally am multicultural and I love this about myself because I get to see people appropriately differently than most would as a result of observing everything from a non ethnocentric point of view. Appreciating people for who they are just as they are and learning how they conduct themselves and honouring that by being a part of it for the sole purpose of maintaining a strong relationship is crucial. In an intimate heterosexual relationship that is standard. The key thing in moving forward in spite of differences is perspective. Get in your partners shoes, see things from their angle and learn from reflective thinking (taking the time to contemplate the situation logically [bird’s-eye view] not emotionally [stuck in traffic view]).

In her book Battlefield Of the Mind Joyce Meyer exemplifies (on overcoming  judgemental, critical and suspicious thinking) the value of my last point. She says

My husband and I are extremely different in our approach to many things. How to decorate a house would be one of those things. It isn’t that we don’t like anything the other one chooses, but if we go out to shop for household things together, it seems Dave always likes one thing and I like something else. Why? Simply because we are two different people. His opinion is just as good as mine, and mine is just as good as his; they are simply different.

If your friend/partner is from a country where they drive on the other side of the road from what you are used to, it’s not wrong! I cannot tell you how many times I have heard how Americans drive on the wrong side of the road and vice-versa towards Africans. Using chopsticks instead of regular cutlery is good. Fancy dining on the floor instead of a table? Even better.  I asked my friend if she ever had a relationship with someone who was the total opposite of her. She said that’s her best friend. Use your differences to your advantage. If you can’t get around them, jump over them or go under them, then go through them together!

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Of Love & Order part 2: Love Yourself First

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Courtesy of wisbar.org

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matt 12:31

You have to love yourself or you’ll never be able to accept compliments from anyone.
Dean Wareham

If you can learn to love yourself and all the flaws, you can love other people so much better. And that makes you so happy. Kirstin Chenoweth

Who Are You?
Everything that happens to us, we make happen for ourselves and/or others and our actions and inactions shape and mould us into who we are. We live in an imperfect world which means we are in a constant refining operation. This is a slightly easier undertaking for those who make an effort to renew their minds as often as possible. Daily taking up your cross as growth towards conforming to the image of Christ occurs is not a walk in the park. If we are going to be real with ourselves and be serious about not cheating ourselves by portraying aspects of ourselves we wish we were-both to others and to ourselves-it will start with a few things.

Conquer the dark side
Every now again I would ponder the existence of a dark side within each of us. People often refer to this as fighting our own demons. For the constantly prayerful Christian this does not apply to them because of the Psalm 91 protection. The struggle to gain and maintain high self-esteem is a battle that can feel like it lasts for an eternity. I am of the impression that building and prolonging high self-esteem comes primarily from being honest with yourself. There can be truly no excuse for certain behaviour and patterns to persist firstly  in the individual’s life at all, but more so for those caught in the vicious trap of ignorance. Erupting in complete anger (much worse in longer durations) towards someone important to you, especially your relationship, has devastating effects. You can attempt to defend yourself, “The circumstances made it appropriate for me to be angry. They messed up,” supposing it is so, is it not true that  preserving a relationship is more important than being right? Overcoming our dark sides (the things we hate about ourselves) will be a tough but necessary process. Why am I leaning towards this direction? Here is the bottom line:

NB: If you are going to give yourself to someone, give them someone you love

There is nothing more selfish in the whole world than you not loving yourself. Take time to think about that. It is completely unfair to everyone you come into contact with and everyone already in your life. You do not have to be fully whole and complete when you either meet your life partner or continue the relationship with them, but you must do your level best not to be completely broken as well. Be honest. Joyce Meyer mentions the value of having a meeting with yourself. Work diligently to improve on those things you dislike or hate about yourself. Are you short-tempered? Being patient, listening, understanding and empathetic, slowly but surely, is a place you will eventually reach.

Love Yourself
Giving a part of yourself to anyone requires a certain measure of love for them. You will not give your time to someone you do not like or respect. Give yourself first what you will give someone else. You say you love them? Good, love yourself immensely. You say you respect them?  Have lots of respect for yourself. Their importance to you stems from you having deep self-worth. The measure of love you give to someone will be the same measure you have for yourself. Why is this the case? Simple. You can’t give what you don’t have. In the process of loving yourself, particularly if you are finding yourself, ask these questions:

What do you see yourself as?
Does that change every now and again?
Are you a different person in public than you are at home?
Do you have very good standards in general?
Are you honest about who you say you are?

Qualify Your Expectations
A great woman of God, Ashley Brown has been doing a series on her YouTube channel Ashley Empowers called “Dating With Purpose,” where she interviews different couples who have gone through the process the right way. I highly recommend you see as much as possible. This couple Rachel & Roger have a lovely story and share wonderful lessons they have learned in their journey. The one I will be focusing on here is the significance of being who you are looking for. It is crucial to be real about your relationship and expectations for it. If you desire someone who is fit then you will need a good reason for that. It does not make sense to expect something in and of someone that is not already in you.

A message from the King of love
Taking note of the creator of love is paramount. Joyce Meyer says, “Love yourself, but don’t fall in love with yourself.” Hit those affirmations and declarations over yourself. Personalize Scripture. Romans 8:31 which says  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? You can read it as  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for me, who can be against me? It is vital to remember that. Chapter 10:17 talks about faith coming by hearing the word of God so be sure to hear the word you speak over yourself. A good way to bear in mind the avoiding of falling in love with yourself (where pride and conceit thrive), is to be guided by these:

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Phil 2:3-4

 

 

Of Love & Order part 1: What Happened To Love?

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Courtesy of completewellbeing.com

“When it’s gone, you’ll know what a gift love was. You’ll suffer like this. So go back and fight to keep it.” Ian McEwan Enduring Love

“I used to think that I could never lose anyone if I photographed them enough. In fact, my pictures show me how much I’ve lost.” Nan Goldin

Starting from the beginning
Things in my life are moving in a way that only God can orchestrate. From not knowing my purpose and passion, to having TV/Film skills. From only possessing video production skills to having design traits too.. From enjoying an ordinary relationship with God to an extraordinary one. From being single to being in a relationship!
Of course when I put it like this it sounds like everything is going smoothly, all according to plan. That is far from the case. I have had to learn patience, deep trust in God, and persistence especially through and in prayer in the process. The fact that I am even writing this right now is a testament to His goodness! With gloves off, hands rubbed, we are ready to get into highly likely the most exciting journey yet.

What it is about
What is love? No I am not talking about Haddaway’s song! I am sincerely bringing to mind the reality of the most impactful force ever to hit humankind. There seems to be a widespread knowledge or more accurately information, on the subject with it affecting each of us in a completely different way. If you ask one person what they believe love to be, you will get a completely different answer to what the next person will say. The question that eats me every time is if two people (man and woman) were always meant to be, how is it that there are cases where break up happens after 4 or more years? It truly is baffling to me. As I brushed up on my dating knowledge through so many various means including books, TV (talk) shows/series, movies, internet articles, music, conversations/discussions, seminars/conferences and CD’s,  I began to see a pattern between the thriving relationships and the ones that appear to be doomed for failure before they even start. No I am not claiming to be some expert or anything, there is still much for me to learn in spite of all I have already learned, I am merely putting forward my observations in the hopes that someone will have a good or better understanding of love. The point is to let the reader combine their knowledge, insight, wisdom and understanding with what they glean from here.
In case you are wondering Why “Of Love And Order?” It is simply based on this profound principle: Worthwhile relationships take work. Before diving into what I believe that entails, we will observe what I am of the opinion is the world’s standard for love.

Types of relationships
The info about to be displayed is an excerpt taken from a book by the world-renowned dating coach Nick Savoy, founder and CEO of Love Systems. In his journey to find love (married now), he came to discover 6 different kinds of relationships:

  • Traditional: One boy, one girl, no one dates anyone else.
  • Traditional Plus: Like traditional, but sometimes you involve other people in your sex life (not your emotional life). Usually this is when both you and her enjoy threesomes with other women.
  • Open: Your primary emotional commitment is to each other, but you are both free to date other people. Open relationships vary in intensity: some are much like Traditional Plus relationships while others are far more casual.
  • Multiple: You have a strong commitment to each other, but nothing theoretically limits what you can do with others.
  • Dating/Undefined: The rules of what you’re doing and where you’re going are unclear, but there is no explicit commitment. Often early in your relationship and usually the case before you sleep together.
  • Friends with Benefits: No significant emotional commitment. Relationship is primarily sexual.

You would be surprised to note that there is in fact a TV series called Friends With Benefits! Jaw-dropping I know. One can be rest assured that most people’s view of love would have been influenced by one or more of the above. What this therefore implies is that the relationship gets shaky right from the get go because it is established on an unstable foundation.

Aiming for the target
What this series hopes to zero in on is “popularizing” the notion of fighting for your relationship, first of all by learning more about why such a pure and precious thing has been tarnished not only by the world but by and with Christians as well, and coming back to what matters most, the only One qualified to define and execute exactly what love is. We have found that much of the reason for relationships going bad is because there is not much preparation made before entering into it and there are few, if any, boundaries put in place as well. This served as the introduction to the series, which could  have the subheading What happened to love? if you will. Links to stories that are moving, depressing and eye-opening, as well as stories from my own life will be covered in subsequent posts. The most important thing to realize is that outside God, there is little to none satisfaction and fulfillment in this life. No need to take my word for it, just ask Solomon (Book of Ecclesiastes)! Even he, in the fulness of the wisdom pouring forth from the wisest man who ever lived had this to say:

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:

Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.