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)There are more verses but I think that you can see from these scriptures that the fear of the Lord leads people to:
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)
- 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.
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 :)