Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”
The fear of the Lord is one of the most misunderstood subjects in Christianity. On one hand, some think that the fear of the Lord is to fear that God is going to send you to hell unless you do enough good works. This misunderstanding is corrected by 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” We are not saved by good works but rather by believing in the love that God manifested in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. All those who are saved can be free from the fear of death and punishment.
On the other hand, some Christians believe that only sinners should have a fear of the Lord because they think God will never judge them or hold them accountable for their actions as a Christian. This false belief is corrected by Paul in Philippians 2:12, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” The believer should fear the Lord because one day God will judge them and this should be a motivation to continue in their salvation and not to neglect it (Hebrews 2:3).
We shouldn’t be so full of fear that we neglect God’s great love for us or be so complacent to think God will not judge us. Paul Chappell said, “The fear of the Lord helps us recognize our accountability to God.” With this in mind let us learn the proper definition of the fear of the Lord.
The “fear of the Lord” means to, “honor and respect God as the Judge of all the earth, knowing that everyone will give an account of their life before Him.”
Imagine if your dad was a general in the U.S. Army, fighting against terrorists in the Middle East. When you are home with your dad he loves you and treats you kindly, even if you mess up, he still loves you and disciplines you with patience. However, what would happen if you joined the Islamic terrorists and became his enemy on the battlefield? He would have no choice but to fight against you with the full power of the U.S. Army. Therefore, your dad would be a loving father at home, but a terror to the enemy on the battlefield. The choice would be yours as to how you would want him to treat you, as his child or as an enemy.
The same is true with understanding the fear of the Lord. As a Christian you are always to respect and honor God as your Father because he will judge you one day according to His commands. He wants you to know and love Him and dwell in His house forever. However, if you reject Jesus as your Lord and Savior, God will destroy you on Judgment Day. The choice is yours.
King Solomon is teaching in today’s proverb that if we can understand the fear of the Lord, we are at the starting place of receiving all the rest of God’s knowledge. When we have humility and the right understanding of our place with God, as His creation, everything else will come with ease. The fool despises God’s wisdom and instruction because they want to do whatever they feel is right in their own eyes and in the end they will perish.
The bottom line is simple, fear God and grow wise or reject God and suffer as a fool.
- Remove any false understandings of the fear of the Lord you may have.
- Ask God in prayer to give you a healthy understanding of the fear of God.
- Accept all of God’s wisdom in humility by fearing the Lord.