A Good, Healthy Fear

Proverbs 1:7 (ESV)
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

Fear is a good thing. It serves as an internal sensor to activate our senses to the world around us when we sense danger. Fear of the Lord, however, seems not near as prevalent in humans.

Many will put off God, refusing to acknowledge death and the judgment to come, spending their days in sin and rebellion (Job 21:17). Most likely hope that they will have time to make things right with God before their last breath, believing the “thief on the cross” style of redemption is ready and available for all to invoke when death’s door is opening wide. By believing so, they focus on a life of fulfilling their worldly lusts instead of their eternal destination (Luke 12:18-20).

These unfortunate individuals are so enamored by Satan’s lies that they are convinced that God is all about mercy and forgiveness, that living a good, clean life and one of high morals will keep them in God’s graces when the Day of Reckoning comes upon them. After all, God is love, right?

What they fail to grasp is that this loving God provided us a way to be reconciled to Him (John 3:16), but somehow that has been lost in the pursuit of worldly affairs.

How I wish I could bring these poor souls together and implore with them that the path they are on leads straight to destruction. How I wish they would recognize that through a true fear of the Lord—recognizing that this need be a fear borne from knowing only God dispenses our soul (Matthew 10:28)—that they would see a reason to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior of their lives.

Even as believers we become so focused on our own salvation, I believe we diminish the significance of the lost in the world. Remember how Jesus cried out in agony over the disbelief He experienced among the Jewish people in Matthew 23:37? That should be our reaction to the world of disbelief that surrounds us as well.

Fearing God is about reverence. We stand in awe of the Creator and appoint Him our due worship because of who He is and what He has done, is doing, and will do for us. This is the wisdom we must impart to others. It is more than simply respecting God; it is recognizing His stance on sin, on our sinful nature; and that His obligation to judge this sin is awaiting all of us. Without Jesus Christ, those facing this judgment are doomed.

Yet fear of the Lord does not mean being scared of the Lord. As believers, we know there is nothing that can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39). Rather, this fear serves as a catalyst to live a life devoted to obedience, a life that submits to His discipline, and a life that seeks to glorify Him in all we say and do.

Seek this fear through prayer if you are not a believer. Ask Jesus to come into your heart and be master of your life. For those of us who have already accepted Christ, do not be content with allowing a single lost soul to spend an eternity separated from a loving and merciful God.