I am a big huge scaredy cat. I cannot watch horror films, Criminal Minds, murder mysteries, or hardly anything suspenseful…much to my husband’s dismay. This kind of television evokes crazy thoughts and causes my imagination to go NUTS. If I catch even a glimpse of one of these, I have to sleep with lights on and make Tyler go everywhere throughout the house with me…bathroom included! I also have to watch a Disney movie to get my mind off of what I’ve seen. I begin to live in FEAR. Unhealthy, crippling fear.
Have you ever noticed how often Scripture says “fear the Lord”? The moment I hear the word “fear” my mind immediately jumps to these unhealthy fears. Fears of kidnappers, murderers, thieves, and ghosts all coming after me! This is not the fear Scripture is talking about in reference to fearing God.
I’m brought back to the story of Jonah. When God told him to go to Ninevah he “rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord” (Jonah 1:3). He was running full speed ahead from the presence of the Lord. While on the ship to Tarshish, a great storm came that terrified all the mariners on board. They were all calling out to their false gods to save them, and then they turned to Jonah. He revealed to them that he was running from God…the true God. Jonah told them to throw him overboard, and the storm would stop. Once they did, the waves ceased from their raging and a calm came over their boat. Then verse 16 says,
“Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.” Jonah 1:16
I just imagine this scene in my head. The trembling and absolute terror on each of their faces. Their “gods” weren’t answering them in their great distress. Then all of the sudden, they saw the greatness and mighty power of our great God. Immediately this reverence, humility, fear came over them. They weren’t afraid, but in that moment they knew who GOD was. They were no longer crying out to their false gods. They knew exactly who has the power to calm the raging sea. They were all filled with this beautiful healthy fear of the Lord.
We are all commanded to live in fear of the Lord. Joshua 24:14 says,
“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and faithfulness.”
The ESV study Bible says this means to live with reverence and true devotion to God. One of the most common scriptures I have heard with this phrase is Proverbs 1:7. It says,
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7
The ESV study Bible says “The reason the fear of the Lord is the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom is that the moral life begins with reverence and humility before the Maker and Redeemer.”
Some people see God as a scary being who will wipe them out if they ever make a wrong move. This is an unhealthy fear of God, if you have a relationship with Him.
“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 John 4:16-18
When we know Christ, we have no reason to fear judgment and wrath. We can rest in His unfailing love. Perfect love drives out fear, but we first must KNOW Him. Then we can live in this reverential, humble, awestruck fear of Jesus. This kind of fear says, “God, here’s my all because you deserve every piece of me.” Every single day.
“Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always…” Proverbs 28:14