The Fear of the Lord

Lee Grady's latest article titled Where Have All the Leaders Gone? has a section on Leaders who fear God. Here is an excerpt where he bemoans leaders that lack this quality:
You don’t have to look far to see that the American church has fallen short when it comes to the fear of God. In 2008 one popular charismatic preacher led a series of revival meetings and then ran off with another woman after four months. Another popular minister from Atlanta assaulted his wife in a parking lot and was arrested; after his divorce he cavalierly announced that he wanted a new wife who was “sensual.” Another preacher in Baltimore fathered a child with a mistress and then bragged from the pulpit that he was “still the man” even though he had committed adultery. And one preacher in Florida carried on an affair with a stripper and then divorced his wife when she found out about it.
I wish that Lee was writing some sort of Elmer Gantry type of fiction here.. unfortunately this kind of behavior is more commonplace in the body of Christ that I want to admit. The correlation of a true fear of God and righteous behavior is borne out in these scriptures:
The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding. (Job 28:28)

The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. (Proverbs 19:9)

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise. (Psalm 111:10)

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. (Proverbs 1:7)

The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor. (Proverbs 15:33)
There are more verses but I think that you can see from these scriptures that the fear of the Lord leads people to:
  • shun evil - it is sad when people don't get this and seem to have a warped sense of God's love that gives them license to sin;
  • accept the authority of the bible - not in a mere legalistic sense but in a way that put the wisdom of the scriptures over their own understanding;
  • obey the scriptures - both in doing what is right and not doing what is wrong;
  • be teachable and receive discipline - one who fears God is a humble person.. they understand that God sometimes teaches and speaks a word of correction through others;
  • become wise and understanding - I believe that people who do not fear God are fools.. the beginning of Godly wisdom is the fear of the Lord.
I think that the fear of the Lord sometimes gets a bad rap because people don't believe that we need ever fear God.. possibly it would be helpful to use the word respect instead of fear. A child who respects their father acts differently than a child who does not. I think that respect is probably a more contemporary word than fear.

All that said, I have to say that I really do not have a problem with the word fear.. I have sensed this fear at times and it has kept me from doing some foolish and unwise acts. I remember one time when I was in the process of being laid off.. I was upset and one day, as I sat at my computer composing an angry e-mail message to an executive in my organization, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper this to me:
“You can go there if you wish … but if you do I will not go with you.”
I’m not sure that I can adequately put into words the sense that came over me. I can only describe it as the fear of God. I immediately deleted the message.

I am not alone in this kind of response.. Moses sensed this fear at the burning bush.. Isaiah was awestruck in God's presence.. Paul experienced the fear of the Lord when he was knocked off his horse.

The fear of the Lord.. when understood within the confines of the love of God.. is a healthy and awesome respectful fear.. and nothing to be afraid of :)


  1. You have really touched on some great point with this post. Unfortunately I think this is a byproduct of the version of 'Christianity' practiced in this country today. It is very self-centered.

  2. You have said it so well.

    Oh that more of the fear of the Lord would be preached from the pulpits of America. We need revival so badly and it is only going to come through prayer and repentance. May MANY make 2009 a year of prayer and repentance in our own homes and lives.

  3. Wow! This probably underscores most of my thoughts & concerns re the Church, today. I can easily say, there really isn't much leadership at all (& I believe that). We are shallow, fat, & really stupid. I have to be honest & say, I am often right at the top of the shallow, fat, & stupid peak. You heard God & deleted the e-mail -- I probably would have said, to God - "please! I can't concentrate on what I'm writing if you keep talking to me." ... & then delivered the message, in person.

    Thankfully ... more sincere Christians, like you are speaking up & pointing out. The Body is desperate for mature believers to step up. To genuinely help communicate our need for depth & fear, in our relationship w/ God.

    You're a blessing, Brother & you bless me. - thank you. - td

  4. Hi Bob,
    Great post.
    I agree that respect is a much better way of building relationship. Respect is not like fear really because when you react with respect (to someone) then you feel nurtured in that situation, or that your relationship with that person has been nurtured somehow.

    That said, I too have felt the fear of the Lord nudging me (more than a nudge smile) and has definitely kept me at times. Once you get through it - whatever it is - isn't it so true - you are so thankful that Father did love you enough to instill fear in you in that moment. I think Father would probably prefer not to do so, but it is because He loves us so & He truly knows best for us even then.

  5. My current memory verse if Isaiah 33:6....."...the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure..."

    the fear of the Lord is a good and necessary thing

  6. If I would only Fear the Lord more and not think I can handle "things" on my own. Our Bible study group is beginning The Truth Project by Focus on the Family. I believe we are going to learn how fear, wisdom and truth all connect.

  7. I'll be interested in hearing more about the Truth Project Sue.. please keep me posted.

    Thx, Bob


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