The fear of the Lord is an idea that occurs often in the Scriptures but seen little in today’s culture. Think of all the times you have heard the names “God” or “Jesus” in the last month – whether in conversation, during movies, on TV, etc. How many of those times were those names spoken in respect and how many of those times were those names spoken of in vain (that is, either in disdain, profanity, or even just as a meaningless conversation filler such as “Oh my God”)?
Do you notice when people say your name? Sure you do; it’s natural for your ears to catch the sound of your name. Do you think God hears when His name is called? Of course He does. But based on the way people throw His name around, they seem to think He either doesn’t exist or doesn’t care.
Then think for a moment about all the bad things people do. Don’t they do most of these things when others aren’t looking? Yet God is always looking. Therefore, we can see that society in general cares more about what society thinks than it does what God thinks.
Assuming you’d rather please God than please society (if you think you can please both, read You Can’t Serve God Part-Time), how do you go about cultivating the fear of God that the Bible prescribes? Start with the fears that we all have. Yes, we all have fears. Usually, many of them. We’re afraid of losing our job, or of the wrong political party gaining power, or of competitors, or of in-laws, and on and on. We’re afraid of what people will think of us, we’re afraid of what they might say to us, we’re afraid of what they might say to others about us. It’s all we can do to keep up with these myriad fears. We’re expending enormous amounts of emotional and physical energy trying to protect ourselves from all the things we fear.
To fear the Lord is to acknowledge that there is only one fear actually worth having or paying attention to – the fear of Him who made us and who can destroy us. If He is for us, who can be against us? And if He is against us, what would it matter who else is for us?
To fear the Lord is to hold Him in awe, to respect Him, to honor Him, to revere Him, to show deference to His commands. When we fully fear God we are imbued with a courage that makes us unafraid of anyone or anything else. Because God is consummately good, our fear of Him becomes a refuge from all other fears. Therefore, to fear Him is to take refuge in Him.
This Lord we fear is not some ethereal, unknown, vague, inconceivable God. Rather, He is Jesus of Nazareth, raised from the dead to the highest heavens, enthroned above all authority and power. He is King over all other kings, Lord over all other lords. He is the King of the Universe. And you fear Him to your everlasting benefit!
Show Him now and always the fear that is due Him…and do not be anxious for anything. When and if you find yourself fearful or troubled, go to Him with that issue and trust Him with it. He will give you His peace in exchange. Keep doing this, day after day, until your heart is emptied of all fears and filled with His peace. Then your fear of God will be complete.