The fear of the Lord. What does that mean to you? What do you think of when you hear that phrase? What are your first thoughts? Are they good or are they bad? Religion has taken words that have always been life giving and turned them into words that carry a negative connotation.
Let me give you an example.
The word “repent.”
What image just came to your mind when you just read that word “repent?”
Did you see a bunch of people begging and pleading down at the altar of the church? Did you see an angry preacher with a big microphone down out in front of walmart screaming repent or else? Did you see a bunch of fanatics raising signs that say turn or burn?
If you saw this image or an image similar to this in your mind than you have been deceived by religion. When I say religion I mean a system or a way of thinking that is focused on external behaviors and outward ceremonies that make the heart null and void. God is a heart God and the words of the bible were meant to minister to your heart but the church has gotten away from the heart by misinterpreting words to try and bring about change by modifying one’s behavior. The words of Jesus were always focusing on transforming the heart and the changing of behaviors would be a reflection and a fruit of those words penetrating our hearts.
So if we look at the word “repent” and if you study it out in the original language which is Greek and not Kings James English. The word just simply means to change one’s mind or to think differently. Doesn’t that sound a lot different than what we have heard or been taught. The word repent has been abused to try and get people to turn from their sins by casting judgement and wrath. The church has ultimately interpreted words to motivate people to follow God out of fear instead of love. How are these methods of repentance in harmony with what Paul said in Romans 2:4 that it is the goodness of God that brings people unto repentance. If you understand the original language then it is really saying that when you believe God is good, you will change your mind and think differently about how you see God. If there is anything we need to repent and change our minds about, it is the area of who God is. By looking at Jesus being the exact image and representation of God is how we change our minds about who God is. We look at the goodness of Jesus. We see how He treated people with kindness and mercy. The more we view the image of God through the lens of Jesus the more our hearts become repentant.
The reason I bring this all up is to take you down the path of looking at the fear of the Lord in a whole new light. Lets remove all our religious ideas and everything we have seen displayed in the world in the name of the fear of the Lord. Let me take you down the path of understanding the fear of the Lord by looking through the lens of Jesus.
Do you remember when Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil?
Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:13 which says “You shall fear the Lord your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name.”
But Jesus changes the word from fear to worship as you will read in Matthew 4:10.
“the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ Matthew 4:8-10
The word “fear” in Deuteronomy and the word “worship” in Matthew are both used to refer to reverence and adoration, but interestedly enough the word Jesus decides to use goes much further into the heart of God.
The word “worship” here that Jesus uses means “to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence. The word picture here is “to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand.” When a dog licks the hand of its master it may be a way of communicating that the dog is obedient and subordinate to its master. The dog acknowledges that the master is the leader in their world. In other words when a dog licks the hand of its master the dog is saying “I trust you.” A dog may also lick your hands as a way of giving you a warm welcome.The dog is communicating that I just want you to know that I appreciate you.
Understand that I am not saying that Jesus was a dog or that we are dogs but I think it paints a beautiful picture of what the fear of the Lord looks like for us. The dog licking of its master’s hand is not motivated by fear of punishment or judgment. The dog licking the master’s hand is a true picture of humility and unconditional love. We have all heard such amazing stories of dogs and their love for their masters. Remember the dog back in 2011 that refused to leave the casket of the fallen Navy Seal. What tremendous loyalty and love a dog can show towards its master.
I hope you are getting a picture of what it looks like to fear the Lord now. It is important that we are understand what the fear of the Lord is in our lives in order to live a long and happy life.
Solomon the wisest person on the planet starts off his writing by saying in Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.” This is bluntly saying that if we don’t fear the Lord than we are fools. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be a fool who despises wisdom and instruction. This knowledge that this verse refers to you is much more than just intellectual knowledge. The word knowledge in its most fundamental meaning is to have the ability to perceive and to see. When we lack knowledge we are unable to perceive and to see the truth that is right in front of our faces waiting to give us life.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. It is the principal and chief thing to have our eyes opened to the truth of wisdom that cries out daily in the streets. It is our entrance to walk in a newness of life with clarity and direction.
We need not fear that God might hurt us, a fear experienced by those who are trying to run from God. The fear that we have out of loyalty and love is the fear that we might hurt him. The fear that we might grieve his loving heart in concern for us. How do we grieve the heart of God? We grieve the heart of God when we hurt ourselves. We punish ourselves for our sins and mistakes instead of receiving forgiveness and mercy. The pain that we carry we project onto others and the cycle of pain continues. I believe the reason that we have a hard time with fearing the Lord in the way that Jesus demonstrates is because we won’t allow ourselves to receive love.
You are His child. You are His daughter. You are His Son. God is your father. He loves you.
We don’t have to do life in our own strength.
Are you tired?
Are you worn out?
It is safe to come to God. He can be trusted.
Now that you know what it means to fear the Lord you never have to be afraid of what He may do to you.