We Need the Fear of God

“…the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.” (Psalm 147:11)

The idea and reality of the fear of God isn’t talked about a lot in today’s church. When it is, it’s usually followed by, “Not the scary kind of fear, but an awe-inspiring, reverent, and respectful fear.” And while saying this isn’t untrue, I also don’t think it says enough. I feel like a rediscovery of the biblical fear of God would do us all well.[1] If any Christian authors want to tackle that topic, please do it! We need it!

 

If the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge, if it’s clean and enduring forever, if it’s a fountain of life and a part of the whole duty of humanity, then wouldn’t we desire to know and practice it?[2]

What is the Fear of God?

The fear of God is self-explanatory. It’s literally the fear of God. Now, the word “fear” is most often used negatively today (it’s also used many times negatively in the Bible). So, when we read the many (and I mean many) references in the Bible that encourage our fear of God, it comes across as strange and odd.

 

Why does God command that we fear Him? And why would He take pleasure in it?

 

Those are good questions! God commands us to fear Him because that’s what we’re made to do. God only commands what gives Him the highest glory and us the greatest good. His command for us to fear Him isn’t from an evil pursuit of praise for Himself. God isn’t evil. Everything He does is pure and righteous. So, this means that fearing God must be for His glory and our good.

 

Think about it this way: what is the one thing that someone can do to bring great glory to God? I would say, to behold all that God is and understand all that He’s done, and then, feel the weight.

 

I guarantee that when anyone genuinely attempts this, great fear will come upon them. Suddenly, God won’t seem so small anymore – so insignificant. God’s greatness will be overwhelming. Anything put beside God will be infinitely smaller and much less worthy of our time, energy, and talents. God’s anger will be seen, not just His love. God’s justice will be felt, not just His compassion and mercy.

God will rightfully be recognized in our minds and hearts as our Superior.

How Do I Grow in My Fear of God?

The fear of God is simply the result of beholding the One true God in the Bible. It’s knowing and feeling God for who He is. Obviously none of us can do this perfectly (which is demonstrated by much of the church today), but in our growth of becoming more and more like Jesus, the more we’ll know and feel God – resulting in a greater fear of God.

 

So, here are a few ways to know and feel God more – leading to a fear of Him:

 

– Focus your attention on the character of God. Search the Word, read good books, and pray. Don’t just look at what God does for you, rather, look at God!

 

– Consider all that God’s done. Again, search the Word, read good books, and pray. Follow the history of Israel in the Old Testament, of Jesus and the church in the New Testament, and then of the church through history.

 

– Stretch your heart and mind by reflecting on characteristics of God and things that He’s done that don’t fit your idea of God. Maybe the anger of God? His unconditional love for sinners? His sovereignty over evil? His impartiality of the world?

 

The question “Where’s the fear of God?” I think can best be answered this way: it’s found and felt in beholding Him. My hope and prayer for my life and the lives of many in today’s church would be to behold God in all His glory, resulting in a genuine fear of Him and a hope in His steadfast love.

 


[1] I’m not at all saying that this article fully explains the biblical fear of God. This is, hopefully, an encouragement to just begin thinking about it. It’s a mere scratch at the large surface.

 

[2] Psalm 111:10; 19:9; Pr 1:7; 14:27; Ecc 12:13


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