What comes to mind when you think of fear? Monsters? Snakes? Bugs? Terrorism?
We know what President FDR thought—"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
What about the fear of God? It's not a popular topic in churches, and it's mocked by unbelievers. Yet, the expression is found in many places throughout the Bible.
Many believers and teachers of the Bible, and a few Bible versions, seem to minimize it as mere respect. But based on what's written about it in the Bible, there's more to it than that—far more. This chapter in Proverbs gives us some insight into it.
Whoever lives right fears the Lord, but a person who is devious in his ways despises him. [vs 2]
Stubborn fools make fun of guilt, but there is forgiveness among decent people. The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger can share its joy. [vss 9-10]
There is a way that seems right to a person, but eventually it ends in death. Even while laughing a heart can ache, and joy can end in grief. A heart that turns [from God] becomes bored with its own ways, but a good person is satisfied with God’s ways. [vss 12-14]
In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and his children will have a place of refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life to turn [one] away from the grasp of death. [vss 26-27]
A tranquil heart makes for a healthy body, but jealousy is [like] bone cancer. [vs 30]
(Proverbs 14:2, 9-10, 12-14, 26-26, 30 GW) [Context– Proverbs 14]
Key phrase— In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence
[bctt tweet="In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence"]
What are we told about a person who fears the Lord?
What is said about people who don't fear the Lord?
What are the several things the "heart" knows and does?
How do you think the verses about the heart relate to fearing God, or do they at all?
The fear of God is not an anxious fear. In fact, it produces peace and assurance, not anxiety. It's not an emotion or feeling, but a conscious awareness of God, who is our Creator and is holy, powerful, merciful, and gracious.
He is worthy of more than respect. This awareness penetrates the heart and character of a person. It changes them inside, and their outlook on life and people.
The fear of God motivates a person towards goodness and doing right, while anxious fear paralyzes a person. God—because He's all-knowing and ever-present—knows the heart of every person. He knows our bitterness and grief, and He knows our joys and hopes.
Make it personal...
Read through the Scripture text again to consider and answer the following questions
What causes you to be fearful? Do you consciously entrust them to God?
How do you handle things like bitterness, guilt, unforgiveness, envy, or grief?
Does guilt motivate you to make things right, or cause you to withdraw or become stubborn?
In what ways have you feared others, but not God? Would you like to have a tranquil and content heart? Which kind of fear will you choose—anxiety or the fear of God?