Whatever It Takes, Father
Read Proverbs Chapter 16
Pr 16:6 Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil.
Most of the time, when I address the subject of fear of the Lord, I consider the definition to be ‘reverence.’ That normally is the connotation which more aptly fits scriptures that reference fear of God. In my early childhood, I feared God, but it was more of the kind of fear that is more often thought of today. Just as I was afraid of my mother, trying at all costs to avoid arousing her anger, I had the same idea about God. It wasn’t that I revered Him, I was deathly afraid of Him. He was the ruthless punisher of all those who committed sin. He was that God who had a lightning bolt in His hand, just waiting for someone (me) to make a mistake.
To further roil the pot, there were those who told me that no one could or would come to God out of fear of Him. This was one of many ideas which made me doubt whether I was saved. I did not know how to make myself reverence God; I didn’t know how to do so and there was no one who seemed to be able to explain it clearly. Fortunately, I have slowly discovered how to achieve reverence for Him. The simple answer, which so deftly avoided me in my earlier years, is that we begin to reverence Him more and more as we get to personally know Him. Over the years, as I have begun to recognize who He really is, and understand how mightily He has worked in my life, reverence for Him has continually grown.
That said, now let’s switch gears. Is it possible to avoid evil, as stated in this scripture passage, by fearing God? Yes indeed. When we reverence or fear (by its most common definition) God, we are much less likely to disobey Him. Obviously, the most desirable motivation for obeying Him is our respect and reverence for Him and His word. However, any motivation to please and obey Him is a good motivation. Had it not been for my deathly fear of God, as a child and through my early adult years, I would have indulged in even more sin. As bad as my life was in the area of sinning, it could have and would have been worse.
Do not think that I am advocating that kind of fear of God. I am not. My message to all men is to get to know Him in such a deep way that our love for Him will help constrain us from disobedience. On the other hand, I would never tell a man that he doesn’t need to fear God in its most common definition. Quite clearly, the following verse would instruct us to have a real fear of God, not from the standpoint of reverence, but from the knowledge that He holds our eternal destiny in His hands.
Mt 10:228 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
I have come full circle on this issue. For a long time, I resented those who caused me to have a deathly fear of God as a child and a young adult. Therefore, for years afterward, I taught that man should respect God but not fear Him. Time has a way of making things more clear. Now I can see that my Savior used my total fear of Him to drive me into His arms. Without that threat of a big stick that would whack me when I got out of line, I might very well have not sought Him with the perseverance and intensity which I did over the years. Whatever drives a man to Christ is a good thing. Whatever leads a man to Him is good. God uses all sorts of means to bring men to Him, those who are willing to seek Him.
Prayer: Whatever it takes, Lord; bring men unto You and Your salvation. Open the hearts and minds of all SSA men and women who have not yet accepted You and Your word. Lord, have mercy on all who currently do not believe in You and accept Your instructions.