Fear of God
the Beginning of Wisdom
The last couple of weeks have been full of God’s instruction (discipline, conviction, correction, abundant mercy) in my life. There were several things that He told me to do at various times awhile ago, but I didn’t carry through on them. The past couple of weeks He not only reminded me of these items but also revealed to me the reason I didn’t do them – I put a fear of man over a fear of Him. (Fear of man meaning a fear of alienating others, having certain confrontations, and speaking particular things I hold as true) Each one was difficult to face and especially the overarching reason of misplaced fear. I desire to walk in God’s ways, and when I discovered I hadn’t been it was heart wrenching. But I was thankful for His instruction so I could turn back to Him.
The Bible tells us that the fear of God is to hate evil Proverbs 8:13 and the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs 9:10 It is the beginning of wisdom because when we fear God we walk in His ways which consist of the only true good and wisdom there is. God told me to do certain things and those instructions were in accordance with His wisdom. Because I put a fear of man over my fear of God, I wasn’t walking in them and therefore not living in wisdom in those areas.
As believers we don’t have a fear of God in this sense that we fear judgment that is the unbelievers fear or should be. Our fear is one encapsulated in love. We fear Him because we love Him. And that fear is a fruit of the spirit that becomes ours as we draw near to Him in truth and grow in love with Him and His ways.
God illustrates this fear-love dynamic in the father-child relationship. Growing up I feared my Dad. Never once did I doubt his love for me, but I shook in my sneakers when I knew I acted against his will. My trepidation came from knowing what he could do and being totally dependent upon his mercy. If there had been no mercy I would have had another kind of fear. He was a big tall man. Yet, I knew he would never hurt me because he loved me. I had a fear that was a combination of his sovereignty in my life and love.
My dad and I shared a bond, which encompassed love, trust, honor, and respect. When I betrayed that bond by going against his will, I dreaded the disappointment I would face. My fear was grounded in how I would make him feel if I went against his will and my desire to show him my love in return for his. Now I didn’t fully realize the depth of this reason as a kid. I just felt the desire to not disappoint him, but this bond of love was the underlining factor.
As a good student, I remember when I brought home my first low grade in high school chemistry, a D. The terror of what my Dad would say but more the disappointment in his eyes made each step into the kitchen to hand him my report card near impossible to take. I went against his will by not trying my best and I knew that. He trusted me and I broke that trust. I knew what I deserved.
You know what he did? He hugged me. He said it was okay. He said he trusted me to do better next time. Wait a minute, no reprimand, no disappointing look? Unbelievable, his mercy washed over me. I depended on his compassion and it was always there. Instances like that made me love him more because he didn’t give me what I deserved and gave me what I didn’t. He showed me his love and my love for him grew. There was nothing I could do to break his bond of love with me, even when I did something against it. And the next semester I got an A.
Our relationship with God is very similar. When we come to know God as our Lord we develop a fear of Him but it is tied to love for Him because He is merciful toward us. His love doesn’t remove the trembling but just envelops it because we know what we deserve and what He could do but never would because He loves us. We fear Him because He loves us and we love Him.
Psalm 103:10-11 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
God’s immense mercy redeems us from the destruction we daily invite into our lives. If there was a single moment that His mercy retracted, we would perish. His perfect love for us drives out fear of His wrath and replaces it with a holy fear fashioned in love.
Psalm 130:4 But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared
As God showed me these past weeks how I had been blindly disobeying Him, a sensation of fear wrapped in love started to fill me. I remember the days I use to not have that sense of a loving fear – I’m thankful to feel this treasured fruit growing inside me. I am thankful for the passion and desire it creates to walk in His ways of goodness and wisdom. This is my prayer – Psalm 86:11 “Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.”
Psalm 112:1 Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments.