When I was growing up in church, we were taught that God was, well basically that He was kind of angry. That hasn’t been my experience God. He is actually very gracious and kind. However, I do believe there are some things that make God angry. Things like our willful disobedience to His word.
Psalm 128:1 says “Blessed is every one who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways.”
We do not talk much about “Fear of the Lord”. To me, “Fear of the Lord” is a healthy respect. In some ways, it is how I felt about my dad growing up. I knew if I didn’t behave he was going to discipline me. I wanted to please him and not disappoint him. I knew that he loved me no matter what.
I heard recently that the only thing we should fear is the Lord. In some ways that is true. If we are in His hand then why are we fearful of anything else? The Word says greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world. It says, fear no evil for I am with you. Really, what or who should we fear but God Himself?
To me fear of the Lord is respect for Him and all that is His. Respect for His house.
When I hear about people who know truth but are willfully living contrary to truth…well, that is disappointing. When I hear about people who are in roles of leadership or who are serving in positions at a church, who are living lives of willful disobedience to God’s Word…well, I am afraid for them.
How do we teach and demonstrate a healthy fear of the Lord? Lately I’ve noticed that the generation that is growing up have very little respect or regard for anyone. They do not respect their parents, teachers, youth leaders, pastors. They not ashamed about any choice they make. Everything is relative; everything is okay. There is not any “right” or any “wrong”. And no one should tell you otherwise….or they are being judgemental. Honestly…this isn’t a very Christian thing to think or say…I would like to slap some people and tell them to wake up to truth. (Bring back the swatter usher) (Is there any record of Jesus slapping people?? Really, I am not a slapper.) Many of these young people have a real passion for God. Proverbs 19:2 (NIV) says, “It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor be hasty and miss the way.” They may have zeal but they have no standards that they live by.
I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life. There have been times in my life when I put God on a back burner. I admit it. I did things I knew were wrong. I was willfully disobedient. During that time, I did not serve in my church. In fact, I rarely attended church. I did not want to be reminded that I was living my life in opposition of the Word of God. (This is also why, when you notice someone hasn’t been at church you should give them a call – some things could be going on with them. They may need a voice of reason – a voice of truth in their life). Every Christian should attend a church that isn’t afraid to say, “This is right and this is wrong according to the Bible.” If you church isn’t willing to set a standard, then find one that is willing. The Bible is always the standard. We may rarely live up to it, however, God has still given it as a standard to live by. Anything less than the Word of God and you have a watered down gospel. Jesus never watered down the gospel – He told people they were wrong; they were sinners and then He extended grace. The church has the right to hold us accountable for our actions; a good church will. A good church, a good pastor will tell us where we have fallen short and will help equip us to succeed.
There are some things that are sacred to God…some things that we should not fool around with. One of those things is causing a brother or sister to fall. There are those who are young in Christ who may not have the knowledge of a seasoned Christian. They look to those around them to model Christianity. My goal is always to point them to the Word of God. Read your Bible; Pray – every day! Yet still, the areas in our lives that we justify; the areas that we fail in they will see it and they will justify. We may say, “Follow me as I follow Christ” but our actions speak louder than our words. I heard a pastor, Terry Bryant from Mobile, Alabama, say, “You do what you believe and everything else is just religious talk.” We must guard our actions and our words because we are not always aware of who is following us.
Recently I finished reading “Same Kind of different as Me”. It is the story of a homeless man and a very wealthy man and how their lives enter-twined. (It is a good book – read it – practical application of Christianity). One of the lines from the book was “Debra was only afraid of three things; snakes, yellow jackets and missing God’s call on her life”. That statement says so much about the person. Fear of failing God, yet knowing even when I do fail Him, He still loves me.
What is “Fear of the Lord” to you?