What does it mean to fear God?
My father once defined the fear of God like this:
“The fear of God is a reflex, attitudinal, and emotional reaction to an accurate understanding and awareness of the glory and the majesty of the God of the Bible, that causes a person to trust God, to love God, to obey God, hope in God and be consumed with God, wanting to serve Him and please in every area of life.”
Which is a really long definition.
But it’s good!
Notice especially, the words, reflex, attitudinal, emotional, and the phrase, that causes.
It’s a reflex.
It’s a response, in other words to how God’s revealed Himself in Scripture. The fear of God involves our thought processes. You see who God is in the Bible, you understand what it means, and that produces, emotions.
It’s not just mental, the fear of God.
It is also emotional.
We start to think about how great God is, and how far above us, He is in his thoughts. We look at the world around us. And we think what kind of mind comes up with this stuff? Or we read the Old Testament and the New and we start to see just how far back God’s saving plan goes, and all the details of history that He’s orchestrated to save us. And we’re overwhelmed. Emotionally. With just how much smarter He is than us.
We start to realize, we can spend the rest of our life studying, and working as hard as we can at understanding creation or Scripture, and how God did all this, and at the end, we are still going to be so far from even really understanding the beginning of what He’s doing.
It’s kind of like, if a worm stretched as far as it could upward, trying to touch the stars. The difference between where the worm ends and the star begins, is closer, way closer, than the distance between the greatest, most wise man’s understand of the glory and majesty of God, and God Himself, and I am saying, fearing God, means, those thoughts, affect us.
We start to think about how important He is. Maybe we compare Him to important people on this earth, and powerful , and we begin to realize that if we took the most powerful people, that ever lived, and the most important, and we compared them to God, it would be like looking at a bunch of grasshoppers or ants.
This is the King of Kings. There’s no one anywhere who is His equal. You take the most glorious beings. Supernatural ones. Angels. Who if we saw, we would be tempted to fall down and worship. And you put them in the presence of God. And you know what they do. They cover their eyes and they cover their feet, and they cry out.
Holy, Holy, Holy.
Different. Different. Different.
God is awesome, and when we fear God, we know that, and it impacts us.
We don’t relate to Him, in a careless way.
It makes us a little shaky, you know.
We tremble before Him.
It makes us happy. We rejoice in Him.
It makes us feel small. We’re humbled before Him.
And we get serious, about pleasing Him. In other words, we want to obey Him.
And that’s so key.
The fear of God doesn’t stay up in our thoughts or just create these emotions in our hearts, it changes us, at a core level, what we love, and what we hate, and that impacts, how we live.
The fear of God involves action.
Which is why another word, you find coming up all the time, when it comes to fearing God, is actually the word obedience.
In fact, maybe, no truth about the fear of God is more obvious in Scripture than the fact that it involves glad hearted, diligent obedience and service.
If you fear God, you’ll keep His commandments.
“What does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, … and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul”
“How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways”
“How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who great delights in His commandments”
“The conclusion when all has been heard is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.”
If you ask the God inspired writer of Proverbs what the fear of God is and he will respond with these words.
“The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way, and the perverted mouth…“
I am saying.
All of these Scriptures emphasize action. People who fear God obey Him, they structure their lives according to His Word, and, it’s something, that brings them joy.
They obey with delight.
It’s not a grudging or forced obedience. They don’t serve Him or walk in His ways because they have to, but because they want to. God-fearing people obey God because they consider it a privilege to please Him. God-fearing people don’t have to be coerced, manipulated or threatened into obedience. They don’t have to be sent on a guilt trip or dragged kicking and screaming away from sin and into a life of righteousness. They want to stay away from evil, from pride and arrogance and unwholesome speech. They love godliness, righteousness, holiness, humility, god honoring, edifying communication. And, why? Because, they fear God and God hates these things. Because, God is their reference point. So what pleases God pleases them and what displeases God displeases them.
That’s what the fear of God is and if that’s what the fear of God is, do you fear God?
Because that’s the question.
It’s not much good to define it, if you don’t do it.
I am asking: Is God really God to you?
As you go through life.
Does the fact God is all powerful keep you from worry, frustration and discouragement?
As you go through life.
Does God knowing everything about what’s going on in your life, help you not get so freaked out, when things are getting stressful?
As you are out there living.
Does God being with you, give you peace, when things seem a little frightening?
Does knowing God always does what is right, keep you from getting so frustrated or angry or bitter.
Do you find yourself being amazed by grace and wanting to show that grace to others?
Does it keep you from complaining? Does it motivate you to spend time praising? Do you ever find yourself really grateful for the fact God loves you? Does that ever cause you to say to yourself, I don’t deserve this? Does it cause you to love Him? To actually be excited about having the opportunity to come and worship?
Are you optimistic? Not because you think, life is going to be easy or that everything is going to go your way, but, because you know God, and you know He’s got a plan, and that gives you confidence that no matter what happens, in the end He wins.
Do you think about Him? Do you want to think about Him more?
Are you a God conscious, God centered person? Do you think about how you can please God? Do you ever find yourself being awestruck by God‘s majesty and glory?
Because that’s what it means to fear God.