Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fear of the Lord

 

If there is one thing I pray for more than anything, it is WISDOM. I pray for wisdom for myself as a wife, a mother, and in every {big} decision I make. (I’m working on that being more prayerful in EVERY decision- even the small ones.)  I pray for wisdom for Jonathan and for my boys. I pray we all grow in wisdom.  If someone asks me for advice, I try to remember to pray for wisdom before responding. One question we have learned to ask in as many situations/decisions as we can remember to is  “What is the wise thing to do?” or “Is this wise?” For that reason, Proverbs 9:10 is such a powerful verse to me! The FEAR of the Lord is the beginning of WISDOM. If I want to be wise (which I do), I must fear the Lord.

We hear verses like Proverbs 31:10  and assume we get it. But when you really stop to consider, do your thoughts and actions  demonstrate that you truly fear the Lord??

 

I have to be honest. I was never really taught much about what it means or looks like to fear the Lord.  It’s not a popular message for preachers to preach about, and I feel like many Christians have a watered down view of what it means to “fear the Lord.” I know that before my mentor helped me really understand it, I just thought it meant having a ‘reverence’ for Christ. (And it does mean that too, of course.)

I do remember asking specifically about this when I was a little younger because there are so many verses that mention it.

In fact, the Bible mentions the phrase “fear of the Lord” or “the fear of God” well over 100 times in the Bible.

I remember someone telling me that it doesn’t actually mean “fear” the Lord…it just means “respect” Him. (And we should. We should absolutely reverance, respect, love, and have an awe of God.)

But after studying it a bit more and really looking at some of the Scriptures, I have a slightly different opinion. It goes way beyond just “respecting God.”

Christians: Our God is FULL of grace, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. He is a LOVING God.

However, that same God that is so merciful, compassionate, graceful, and forgiving struck people dead for disobedience. He sent plagues and a flood. and completely destroyed some cities, like Sodom and Gomorrah. The Word tells us there are ALWAYS consequences for our sin, and that he disciplines us because he loves us. The Bible is very clear that we WILL reap what we sow. Maybe in a different season, or in a different way than expected, or through our children or grandchildren, but good or bad, we will reap what we sow. Personally, it is challenging for me to truly grasp that when it comes to sin. Now when it comes to good things, I am quick to expect blessings. But when I sin, I tend to think “Oh, surely God will let that go. I didn’t mean to do anything bad, and it’s definitely not as bad as ________.” Or maybe “Well I was justified in that because __________.” There are a million other excuses and reasons I try to rationalize why my sin is okay and I shouldn’t be punished for it. I believe that mindset goes back to childhood and how our parents handled discipline. I know that I OWE it to my children to discipline them when they are disobedient, no matter how difficult it is for me, so they understand that there are always consequences to disobedience. Tying consequences to choices (again, good or bad) and helping them see that correlation is the only way to teach them reaping and sowing. Allowing them to get away with some things is the easier route for sure, and it’s definitely in my nature to “let it slide” because I don’t like disciplining (seriously, I totally get the whole “this hurts me worse than it hurts you” thing now that I am a parent). But inconsistency and “letting disobedience slide” it is not in the best interest of my children. And ultimately, I will have to stand before the Lord and take responsibility for teaching them that.

So, back to a fear of the Lord. I am so thankful our churches teach about the character of God. People need to know that His ways are higher than our ways and that he loves us with a love beyond human understanding & comprehension. We can always run back to God, no matter what we have done, and he will forgive a repentant heart with open arms. He is full of abounding grace and mercy and he will accept us just as we are. But we cannot take advantage of that. God cannot be mocked. We cannot continue on in our sin. We cannot choose to live a life apart from God and only seek him when it’s convenient for us or when we need something.  We cannot pick and choose what to follow. We cannot ignore what Scripture says and live how we want. We cannot treat God like some genie in a bottle. We cannot expect to sin and get away with it. We cannot blame God for consequences of our own disobedience. God gives us all free will, and we all CHOOSE whether to walk in darkness or light; in faithfulness or fear; in obedience or disobedience.

We should obey his commands out of LOVE for him, just as we want our children to obey us out of love. However, I think understanding why obedience is so important helps as well. God gives us boundaries for one reason: our protection. He loves us so much, that he has great plans to prosper and not harm us, to give us hope and a future. When we choose to step outside of those bounds, we lose the protection of the Lord and the JOY that comes from that. A great example that our SS teachers have used is in teaching your children to listen, respond, and obey IMMEDIATELY when you speak because it could potentially save their life. They shared the example of a missionary couple whose child darted out in a parking lot and was hit by a car and killed. He didn’t listen when his parents yelled for him to stop. And how many times do we do that? We don’t obey the Lord immediately, and put ourselves in harms way as a result.

I’m not saying we have to be perfect. Of COURSE we are going to sin and mess up- we all fall short of the glory of God. But I feel as if our society as a whole completely lacks a true “fear of the Lord.” (Obviously non-believers aren’t going to have and understanding of that, but I believe many Christians struggle with this too.) I just feel like so many of our struggles would become non-issues and would become so much smaller in our lives if we let God become BIGGER. And that type of wisdom begins with a true fear of the Lord, just as Proverbs 9:10 states.

I am not saying we should be afraid of God like he is some figure in the sky waiting to strike us dead when we mess up, and if that’s what you’re gathering, I encourage you especially to study some of the verses I am going to post below. I am just suggesting that maybe you’re like me and have never really considered what it means to fear the Lord. Do you have that in your walk? Does your life- your choices, actions, thoughts, and reactions -reflect that?? A healthy fear of the Lord would make our decisions more Christ-centered than self-centered. A healthy fear of the Lord would motivate us so continuously renew our mind. To seek the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. To pray without ceasing. To acknowledge our constant need for dependence on him alone. To desire to have an intimate personal relationship. To study His Word and hide it in our hearts. And to foster a genuine repentance from sin.

I want to encourage you to look up and study these Scriptures when you get a chance. I would write them out here, but there is power in looking them up yourself, in your own Bible, and reading them in context. There are so many others, but these are a few that stuck out to me.

  • Exodus 20:20
  • Deuteronomy 5:29. 6:1-2, 6:24
  • Joshua 4:24
  • Job 28:28
  • Psalm 125:12-14
  • Psalm 37:4
  • Proverbs 31:30
  • Psalm 52:5-7
  • Psalm 86:11
  • Psalm 128:1-4
  • Psalm 145:19-20
  • Psalm 147:11

{How the Lord provides for those who fear him: Psalm 111:10, 112:1-2, 115:11, 115:13}

Here is a great question to consider:

How would you react differently to daily challenges if you truly feared the Lord or feared his law of reaping and sowing?

2 comments:

Marsha Scott said...

Thank you, I loved this. Our current women's bible study is The Best Yes. The very first week that was our scripture. We are seeking wisdom.

Anonymous said...

Loved this!!