Sermon Titled “The Fear Of The Lord” (Proverbs 1:1-7) – Sunday 6th July, 2014
1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
2 for gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight;
3 for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
doing what is right and just and fair;
4 for giving prudence to those who are simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young—
5 let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance—
6 for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
The book of Proverbs, according to bible teacher Warren Weirsbe, is to provide practical (not theoretical) instructions for living God-glorifying lives. In the verses above, we are told that knowledge, wisdom, and instruction should be sought by those who wish to develop an attitude of fear towards God.
The fear of the Lord is a term, by the way, which generally conjures up either negative or positive connotations. Some understand that it is a “good” thing to fear God, while others either resent the idea, or take it too literally, or don’t see it as terribly significant or relevant. It’s likely that those in the latter group simply don’t realize that a genuine reverence and respect for God also involves a necessary element of fear.
A “healthy” fear of the Lord therefore, comes from an attitude of respect towards Him, and an earnest desire to please Him. In order to please God, we must also be willing to obey Him and submit to His will, even when doing so means giving up all the things that we would otherwise pursue. We trust however, that God’s ways are always right and always best, and armed with that mindset we are able to relinquish control of our lives and allow ourselves to be led by God.
The bible also says that an attitude of respect towards God, as demonstrated by a fear of Him (and consequently a desire to do good), can result in such outcomes as the following:
- “strong confidence” – Proverbs 14:26
- “a fountain of life” – Proverbs 14:27
- the man who fears God and who delights in His commands, is “blessed” –Psalm 112:1
- those who fear the Lord and keep His commandments receive blessings for themselves, and for their children – Deuteronomy 5:29
- a fear of the Lord leads to purity and the cleansing of “filthiness” from our flesh and spirit – 2 Corinthians 7:1
- “By humility and the fear of the Lord, are riches, honor, and life” – Proverbs 22:4
- And of course, as mentioned above in Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and destruction.”
The reason I think, that some Christians are not inspired by such verses to take seriously the notion of fearing God, is that their faith and belief in God is still taking root in their hearts. Until their relationship with God is rock solid, they will more often divert their fears towards the temporal realm and allow themselves to be worried about things that have no lasting or eternal effect. That is, they will be more fearful of things like illness, work crises, relationship problems, and financial concerns. These are all legitimate concerns mind you, but none of these should take precedence over a fear of the Lord.
Some Christians also fear people more than they fear God; they shy away from proclaiming their faith because they’re afraid of what others might think. The bible tells us however that we should be far more concerned about He who is able to destroy both “soul and body in hell,” than those who can do damage to the body and emotions but not the soul – Matthew 10:28. And in Proverbs 29:25, we are warned that a “fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”
A somewhat radical but excellent way to stop worrying about other people’s perceptions of you (and worry instead about pleasing God), is to give serious thought to who you want to be known as. Pastor Reimer has shared this story before, but he mentioned it again in last weekend’s sermon and it’s worth repeating:
During his time spent serving in the Marine Corps, Pastor Reimer became known among his fellow marines as “Preacher.” He described how marines are often given call-names, based on how their peers perceive them. For example, a marine’s reputation or certain physical or behavioral traits might determine his or her call-name. Pastor Reimer earned himself the call-name of Preacher because of his reputation as a religious and God-fearing man.
At the time, Pastor Reimer said he was initially embarrassed, but he soon realized how much of a blessing his new call-name actually was. He was working alongside some great marines, but some of them were regularly engaging in outside activities that he had no desire to take part in. Fortunately, none of these men ever asked him to join them, because let’s face it, who would ever think to invite the preacher guy out to get “hammered” or to visit a “gentleman’s” club!
So, although it’s tempting at times to hide your faith from certain groups of people, it’s also very liberating to understand that fearing God is a far more peaceful and blessed way to live one’s life.
William D. Eisenhower, in his article Fearing God, said that many Christians get it wrong because they have a “big world/little God” view. The world, not God, is what they fear most, and the tragedy in this type of thinking is that the world and all of it’s worries is perceived as the “ultimate threat.” The biblical position however, is that God is who we should fear most of all.
If you do not fear the Lord, then you probably won’t be too afraid of disobeying His commands, and you will be less inclined to seek His wisdom and insight. But sadly, you will likely miss out on experiencing the full extent of God’s love – and if you have ever experienced intimacy with God you will know that there is nothing else in the world that is even remotely as satisfying and fulfilling.
So ask yourself today, do you fear the Lord?