“Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.”
What do you suppose it means to fear the Lord? And why are there so many Scriptures that instruct us to fear God, not man?
The Bible tells us that (1) to fear God is the beginning of wisdom, (2) the fear of the Lord leads to life, and (3) the Lord delights in those who fear Him.
Why is this important? The Lord wants to build in us the courage needed to walk boldly with Him. Charles H. Spurgeon explains it this way: “You will need the courage of a lion to pursue a course that could turn your best friend into your fiercest foe. For the sake of Jesus Christ, you must be courageous. Risking your reputation and emotions for the truth requires a degree of moral principle that only the Spirit of God can work into you. Do not turn back, do not be a coward; be a hero of the faith. Follow in your Master’s steps. He walked this rough way before you.”
In order to give us courage and to develop strong characters in us, God wants us to have a healthy fear of the Lord—the kind that is rooted in respect and reverence for Him. But our Savior also wants to drive out worldly fear—the sort that stems from doubt and condemnation; the type that leaves its victims panicked and paralyzed . . . and ineffective for service in God’s Kingdom.
And to accomplish His goals, God wants us to take responsibility for our actions and to know that sin is serious business. (This is what is meant by “the fear of the Lord leads to life.”) One day, we will all give account for our choices. This reality actually terrified Paul and motivated him to strive to please God in everything he did. (See 2 Corinthians 5:9-11.)
Christians have been pardoned by the sacrifice of Jesus. We are not condemned. But because God is absolutely just, we will be called on to give an account of our actions.
Lord, help me to understand what it means to fear You with reverence. Help me to understand that You are tender toward us and will never give us more than we can bear. You will always watch over us with a steady eye. Help me to trust You. Amen.