What does it mean to have the fear of God?
Is it a paralyzing fear that keeps you from living your life?
Or is it a healthy respect and reverence of God that motivates you to live according to His will?
When you do what the Bible says about the fear of God, you will see how it can help you live your life in obedience to Him, not to mention the Bible says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10) and as we all know that wisdom is very valuable (Proverbs 4:6-7).
What is the Fear of God?
In the Bible ESV, it says that God is “to be feared” (Psalm 47:2) and in some other Bible translations it uses the word “terrible.” But what does that mean?
Many people are scared of Him because they think He’s going to punish them for their sins and while God DOES punish believers who are unrepentant of their sins AND non-believers, that is only a portion of what the fear of the Lord is.
Yes, we SHOULD fear a holy and just God. He punishes sin, He avenges His children, and those who are apart from Him, or rather, not saved, SHOULD BE afraid of the LIVING GOD! For they will stand before Him one day and give an account to Him of their lives and choices therein.
For the believer, that fear of His wrath is gone. It’s been made justified by His death on the cross and our acceptance of His free gift of that death in order to save us. It’s been ratified.
When we have the fear of God, it means that we respect (Joshua 24:14) and are in awe of Him (Isaiah 6:5) because He is so holy and powerful. We realize that we’re nothing compared to Him and we want to live our lives in a way that pleases Him.
Having the fear of the Lord is a good thing because it keeps us from sinning and it helps us stay on the right path. It’s also a great reminder that no matter what happens in this world, we can always count on God.
Fearing the Lord is a healthy respect and reverence of God that motivates us to obey His commands and to live according to His will. It is this fear that led the Israelites to flee from the Pharaoh’s army, that kept Joseph from sinning with Potiphar’s wife, and that inspired Job to persevere through tremendous trials.
The fear of the Lord is something that is often misunderstood. The fear of God is not a cringing, servile terror or based on anxiety; rather, it is a wholesome dread of offending Him who is infinitely holy and just. This reverential fear leads us to trust in God’s mercy and grace and to walk in His ways. It is the beginning of wisdom and it brings eternal life.
Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”
And, Matthew 10:28 states, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
It is a reverential respect and awe for God, and it is this fear that motivates us to obey Him, to please Him, and respect Him. It is what keeps us from sinning because we do not want to offend or displease Him. We want to be Christ-like. It is what helps us make good and godly decisions (Proverbs 3:5-6). And it is this reverential fear that leads us to eternal life.
This is the key to the Christian life. It is what motivates us to be obedient to God. It is the fear of going against His Word or disobeying Him that keeps us from sinning.
When we have the proper perspective of who God is and what He has done for us, we cannot help but respond with reverential fear, a respect reverence of God. We should all strive to have this type of fear in our lives because it is only when we do that we can truly experience all that God has for us and walk with Christ, being Christ-like.
How the Fear of God Leads Us to Love Him
The fear of God leads us to love Him and want to please Him above all else. When we fear God, we are motivated by our love for Him to obey His commands and live according to His will. This reverence of God is what causes us to cherish our relationship with God and strive to please Him in all that we do.
It is a reverential fear that leads us to love and want to please God because we know how much He loves us and has done for us. We understand His vastness and greatness as King and Lord of our lives. When we have this type of fear in our lives, we will be motivated to obey God and live according to His will, making decisions according to wisdom and in faith, knowing HE knows best as He can see the entire scope of things and we can only but see a small fraction of it (lean not on our OWN understanding- Proverbs 3:5-6).
Having the fear of the Lord, therefore, causes us to trust Him more! As our Heavenly Father, He cares for us, tends to us, nurtures us, and loves us. We can respect that.
If one of your friends died for you right now, would it not lead you to respect them all the more? They would definitely be worthy of respect, would they not?
The same is true of Jesus. He died for us, and it leads us to not only respect Him, but to bow our hearts in humble submission to Him as the Lord of our lives.
Fearing the Lord is respecting Him and we fall in love with more and more, those that we fear and respect, those of which we are awe-inspired by.
Look at all His creation. How He hangs the whole world on nothing. Only someone TRULY powerful could do all that! Job 38-41 is a good place to read to see His power! He is vastly worthy of our reverence.
Does Reverence of God Mean the Same Thing as Fear of God?
Reverence of God means that we keep His commandments. It means that we honor Him with our lives. We want to please Him more than anything else. This is the fear of God that leads us to eternal life.
It is a deep respect that leads us to love and want to make Him happy. It is this type of fear that motivates us to obey God and to live according to His will. When we have the proper perspective of who God is and what He has done for us, we cannot help but respond with reverential fear.
The more you get to know Him, through His Word, the more you understand how great HE is, and how tiny WE are. How much power are strength are in just his finger and how desperate we are in need of a Savior. Whether that’s accepting Him into our lives or whether that’s on a daily basis just to keep income flowing in (Deuteronomy 8:18), providing for food, clothes, and basic human needs.
Now That You Know This, What Do You Do?
When it comes to experiencing the fear of God, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. However, if you want to have the fear of God or reverence of God in your life, then there are certain things that you need to do.
First and foremost, you need to seek Him with all of your heart. This means spending time in His Word and in prayer. It means surrendering your life to Him fully, not keeping any parts of your life hidden or reserved from Him and asking for His help in living according to His will. If you do these things, then you will begin to experience the fear of the Lord in your life and it will change EVERYTHING.
When you live in reverence of God, you will find that your priorities change. Your focus will shift from earthly things to heavenly things. You will start to value holiness and righteousness above all else. You will want to please Him wholeheartedly and work very hard to do just that. And as you experience the fear of the Lord more and more, your life will be transformed by His presence, becoming more and more like Him.
If you want to have this in your life, then seek Him with all of your heart. Spend time in His Word and in prayer. Surrender your life to Him and ask for His help in living according to His will. When you do these things, you will begin to experience the fear of God and it will change everything in your life with a glorious clarity.
When you have wisdom, God can use you
When you have a healthy fear of the Lord and start on your path of gaining wisdom, God can use you (Proverbs 13:20). You become more valuable to those around you, both in person and online, everyone you meet.
- Your family
- Your children
- Your neighbors
- Your church friends
Everyone is blessed by knowing you!
You can be used more by God to help those around you in their life situations and become sort of a fountain of refreshing water to them in their time of need because of Jesus Christ living and growing in you.
This is pleasing to the Lord and honors Him! And we WANT to honor God, with every portion of our lives!!
The fear of God is a healthy respect and reverence for Him that leads us to love Him and want to please Him above all else.
It leads to wisdom so that we can help others around us, serving further in the kingdom of God and thus pleasing our glorious King.
It is a terror fear of Him and His greatness, but having been justified through His Son’s death, we are no longer afraid. We can come to Him through the blood of Jesus Christ and be welcomed into the family of God.
This fear motivates us to obey His commands and to live according to His will. When we have this, it causes us to think about how our actions impact Him and whether or not we are honoring HIM (not others) with our lives. It takes the focus off of others, this world, and our flesh, and puts it rightly on God and the spiritual kingdom, which in turn, changes EVERYTHING in our lives and makes us pleasing to the Lord.
As we grow in our knowledge of who God is and what He has done for us, we will want to worship Him more and more. He becomes the bedrock of everything we do and say. It is to Him we glorify with our body, soul, mind, and spirit.
Alas I say to you, having the fear of the Lord IS the beginning of wisdom!