Fear is an emotion that drives people to action. Kind of like an escape mechanism from pain and discomfort. Deep inside all of us, we have that built in, and when we are threatened with something that can hurt us, we immediately react... out of fear. Fear of danger or punishment can also cause a person to act accordingly to prevent it from happening. Someone has said that the fear of the Lord causes a man to hate evil. But is it really the fear of the Lord? What does it mean to fear the Lord?
The Bible talks a lot about the fear of the Lord. To give Him reverence and respect. To elevate Him above oneself. For He is Holy, and there is no one above Him.
Fear the Lord your God, serve Him only,
and take your oaths in His Name.
Do not follow other gods,
the gods of peoples around you,
for the Lord your God,
who is among you, is a jealous God and
His anger will burn against you,
and He will destroy you from
the face of the land.
Do not test the Lord, your God...
be sure to keep the commands of the Lord your God...
do what is right and good in the Lord's sight,
so that it may go well with you.
- Deuteronomy 6:13-8 (portions)
What does the Lord your God ask of you
but to fear the Lord your God,
to walk in all His ways, to love Him,
to serve the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul,
and with all your soul,
and to observe the Lord's commands.
- Deuteronomy 10:12-13
These verses clearly explain what it means to fear the Lord. God loves us and wants us to obey Him. We aren't to be afraid of Him, but to love Him and respect Him, knowing that His great love for us will keep us from harm. Because He wants the best for us, when we tend to wander, like sheep, He will reach down and discipline us... sometimes gently, and other times more harshly depending on what He sees is necessary to lead us back to Him. Fearing God is the impetus to living our lives for Him. Not because we are afraid of what He will do to us if we disobey Him, but because of our love back to Him. We love Him because He first loved us. When we have a Father in heaven like this, we should be all the more rushing to do things that please Him! Out of our reverent fear for Him. Fearing Him draws us closer to Him. As a result, we love what He loves, and hate what He hates. We love His Word, and hate evil.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
But fools despise wisdom and discipline.
- Proverbs 1:7
What we are seeing in our culture today is a refusal to fear the Lord. People are disregarding anything that pertains to obeying and respecting the Lord. Some people call Him "the Man upstairs". Others are lazy in their ways, feeling that God loves everybody and will look the other way when they disobey Him. After all, He won't condemn them, but give them second... and third... and how many are necessary chances to obey again. They ignore Him when times are good, then cry out to Him when disaster strikes. As a result, we are seeing the consequences of disobedience being displayed. Acts of sin are rampant! The Bible also talks about the wrath of God... something no one should take lightly.
How are we faring as the body of Christ? Are we properly fearing Him? Is the world able to witness our obedience and reverent fear of Him? Are we setting an example?
Let us examine our hearts, and humbly turn to God. He has given us His Son to redeem us, and the Holy Spirit to help us.
My son, if you accept My Words,
and store up My commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding...
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom,
and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He holds victory in store for the upright,
He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for He guards the course of the just
and protects the way of His faithful ones.
- Proverbs 2:1-2,5-8