Monday, June 22, 2009

the fear of the LORD (5) what it means to me

It's time (finally!) to wrap up my series on the fear of God. What I thought would take a couple of weeks has taken a whole term!! I've talked about:

I admit I'm still not particularly happy with my definition:

To fear the LORD is to take seriously his awesome majesty, limitless power, absolute holiness, dreadful judgement, glorious salvation and gracious forgiveness, and so to submit to him as the one true God, with trust, love, worship, honour, service and obedience.
"Take seriously" - it's pretty feeble, isn't it? The truth is, I ran through a list of alternatives - "respect", "don't forget", "be mindful of" - and none quite summed up the complex emotions, attitudes and actions that I've come to see make up the fear of God.

So what is the fear of God?

In fact, now I come to look at it, it encompasses all five of the "contradictory definitions" I outlined right at the start of this series! I wasn't expecting that!

Thinking about the fear of God has had a profound impact on me.

  • It's helped me not to fear. Did you know that the most common command in the Bible is "do not fear"? I'm naturally a people-fearer: I don't speak about Jesus for fear of what people will think of me. I've been struck by how often the Bible tells us to fear God instead of evil and disaster, people and nations, or idols and false gods. I've been inspired to fear God more than I fear people.
  • It's reminded me to to take God's judgement seriously. Even though Jesus keeps me safe from eternal judgement, if I put up with sin in my life, I can expect God's fatherly discipline. I also need to be aware that one day I'll have to give an account for every impure thought and cowardly silence. I need to get serious about holiness!
  • It's inspired me to pray regularly that I will grow in the fear of God: a prayer God delights in and promises to answer! After all, the fear of God brings great blessings: wisdom, mercy, long life, protection, goodness, deliverance and salvation.
  • It's filled my heart with trembling joy. The words rejoice with trembling sum up how the fear of God feels to me. I find myself praising God with an extra degree of joy and awe!

How has thinking about the fear of God affected you?

images are from { karen} and .sweetcaroline


Meredith said...

Hello Jean.

Thanks for all of your work on this series and for a wonderful summary of your thoughts in this post, which you have posted providentially the day before I start reading Proverbs in my quiet time.

Thankyou for your encouragement.
Meredith xx

Elizabeth F Babatunde said...

Hi Jean,

I have recently completed and soon to publish my book on overcoming the spirit of fear in Christ and just happened to stumble on your blog during my searches. So far I have read 2 of your notes on the fear of God and I am really impressed.

I also initially found it hard to understand and define the fear of God but after examining several people in the Bible such as Joseph, David, Cain and Abel, I was able to write a whole chapter on it.

After reading your blog, I am encouraged because part of the central message of my book is that when we fear God, we are able to place all other fears in perspective, especially the fear of people. I will definitely be reading more of your notes.

God bless and keep you in His presence forever, Amen
Elizabeth F Babatunde