Along with wisdom, which I explored last time, the fear of the Lord is a key theme in Proverbs. I counted this phrase eighteen times in the book but I might have missed one or two! Not only is the fear of the Lord a refrain of Proverbs, it also is the summary instruction of the next book of the Bible (see Ecclesiastes 12:13-14) and shows up dozens of times throughout the Old and New Testaments.
Because of the greatness of the Lord, we are to fear Him (1 Chronicles 16:25). This word fear isn’t the same kind of fear as the a child’s fear of the monsters under the bed or my irrational fear of caves. The kind of fear we are to have for God is awe and reverence. This past week in Sunday school, my pastor defined the fear of the Lord as worshiping and acknowledging God as Lord.
As I’ve meditated on the fear of the Lord over the last couple of weeks, I’ve realized it isn’t a one-time acknowledgment of who God is. It’s a daily reality. As we choose to live every day in the fear of the Lord, we reverence Him and seek to acknowledge Him as our great God in our ordinary lives.
How do you do that when you eat? Thank Him for the food and choose to eat food that strengthens your body which is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19).
How do you do that at work? Don’t join in the complaining (Philippians 2:14-16); pray about the little things (Philippians 4:6-7); and meditate on Scripture by posting sticky notes on your monitor, encoding a favorite passage or theme in your password, or memorizing a verse to think on when you have a quiet moment (Joshua 1:8).
Living in the fear of the Lord should eliminate worry. Because it acknowledges God’s sovereignty, it helps to transfer our focus from this temporary world to our eternal home in God’s Kingdom.
Here’s an example of what I mean: You have a social gathering coming up and you’re a bit worried about it. What will you say? Will you get along with the other people? What should you wear? If you’re anything like me, you probably have found yourself worrying about these things or similar ones, whether it’s an informal gathering of a few friends or the grandest wedding of the season.
Living with the fear of the Lord acknowledges God as Lord in your life by enabling you not focus on yourself but about on glorying your Savior. So, speak words that build up and point others to Him instead of trying to come up with the perfect witty comeback (Ephesians 4:29). Look for ways to bless others rather than just doing what makes you feel comfortable (John 13:34). Is there loner you can include in your circle of conversation (James 2)? Is there a way you can be of help to the hostess? As you decide what to wear, remember that it is needs to be appropriate for the image you want to portray (1 Peter 3:3-4). This image should reflect that of your Savior (check out my post on modesty).
In the example above, did you notice that the focus of the event shifted? No longer was it about you and what you wanted; it became about living for and serving your God.
As we learn to live in the fear of the Lord in our daily lives, it will change us, and those who observe us, because we are no longer building our kingdom. Fearing the Lord builds God’s kingdom.