Weekly Devotional 041524

Scared Not to Fear

by Tracy Gordon

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  –Proverbs 1:7

What does it mean to truly fear the Lord? I used to struggle a lot with this question, always confused at why our loving God would want us to be afraid of Him. I realized I had it all wrong; it’s not that God delights in having us be terrified of Him. Psalm 147 describes God as the One who “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (vs. 3). The passage praises His mercy, His knowledge, and His power to save the humble (vs. 4-6). The Bible tells us to fear God, not because it is good for Him, but because it is good for us to accurately recognize that He is more powerful than anything else. Acknowledging this shows our deep respect for Him. The proper fear and respect of God will motivate us to avoid sin (Exodus 20:20). It reminds us that God will hold us accountable for our actions.

When our son Jimmy was in elementary school, he often played with some neighbor boys who were a couple of years older than him. I was sharing with a wise friend one day that some of the music those boys listened to was inappropriate and I didn’t want Jimmy listening to it. When I would talk to Jimmy about it, he couldn’t understand why I was making such a big fuss about it. My friend told me she explained to her kids that if Jesus wouldn’t take the ear bud out of your ear and put it into His to enjoy the music, then you also shouldn’t be enjoying that music. I shared this with Jimmy and added that if the music was displeasing to Jesus then it’s not worthy of your ears. About a month later, he came running home crying after time playing with the older boys. When he finally calmed down and I could ask him what happened, he said, “The boys put on some music and it had some bad words. I knew Jesus wouldn’t be happy but I really wanted to stay and play, so I’m sad.” I then burst into tears and he said, “Why are you crying?!” I explained that I was just so, so proud of his decision and that he had greatly pleased the Lord. 

When I think about this story, I realize that fearing God allowed Jimmy to rely on and revere our all-powerful God who cares enough to stoop down and deliver puny little humans like us. This “holy fear” that Jimmy experienced was a gift of love and protection from our Creator. When we fear God, we take on His heart. We love what He loves, and we hate what He hates. What is important to Him becomes important to us; what is not so important to Him becomes not so important to us.

Proverbs 1:7 tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Fear can also keep you spiritually safe. The Bible often calls on believers to “fear the Lord.” If you think of fear as a negative or bad emotion, this can be confusing like it was for me. Remember, fear is not bad; it is good and useful. The fear of the Lord shapes our intentions, thoughts, words, and actions. When we fear God, we need to think of it as giving Him the praise, adoration, thanksgiving, and worship He deserves. Obviously, we are not perfect, but fearing the Lord will give us wisdom (Psalm 111:10), help keep us from sin (Exodus 20:20), and motivate us in evangelism (2 Corinthians 5:11). All kinds of good will flow into the life of the person who fears the Lord.

Heavenly Father, thank You for who You are and all the ways You help and guide us to be Your very best. Please guide our hearts toward fearing You—not in a scary, threatening way—but in the way You intended for our good. We give You all the thanks, praise, and glory that is Yours. In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.

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