“But be sure to fear the LORD and serve Him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.”
Read Job 5:17–19
What’s the difference between worldly fear and the fear of the Lord?
Fear. It’s one of those words we don’t like—unless we’re at an amusement park. When we’re buckled into a roller coaster, we’re pretty confident that nothing worse than losing our lunch is going to happen. And we’re at least somewhat certain that the ride will be over in thirty seconds, gently delivering us to that long line we waited in for thirty minutes—just to get scared! So “amusement park fear” is acceptable because it’s a mere imitation of real, raw, spine-tingling fear. This kind is actually entertaining.
The type of emotion most people connect with the word fear is terror: The fear of pain or damage to ourselves. Included in this definition is the fear of losing a friend or a loved one. This type of fear can generate plenty of worry, stress, and anxiety—can’t it? And there’s no doubt that this is the level of fear Job was experiencing. Every day in our own lives, we experience low levels of “commonsense fear.” You know, good, respect-inducing fear—the kind that tells us not to step into the street in front of that oncoming semi and to keep our fingers out of the flame. That little alarm triggers inside our heads, shouting: “Respect the consequences! Stay away from the things that can hurt or kill you!”
But let’s jump back to Job’s life and explore yet another kind of fear that his story illustrates. In several passages, the Bible tells us that (1) to fear God is the beginning of wisdom, (2) the fear of the Lord leads to life, and (3) the Lord delights in those who fear Him. What do you suppose is meant by this style of fear? And why are there so many scriptures that instruct us to fear God, not man?
The Lord wants to build in us the courage needed to walk boldly with Him. Charles H. Spurgeon explains it this way: “You will need the courage of a lion to pursue a course that could turn your best friend into your fiercest foe. For the sake of Jesus Christ, you must be courageous. Risking your reputation and emotions for the truth requires a degree of moral principle that only the Spirit of God can work into you. Do not turn back, do not be a coward; be a hero of the faith. Follow in your Master’s steps. He walked this rough way before you.”
In order to give us courage and to develop strong characters in us, God wants us to have a healthy fear of the Lord—the kind that is rooted in respect and reverence for Him. But our Savior also wants to drive out worldly fear—the sort that stems from doubt and condemnation; the type that leaves its victims panicked and paralyzed and ineffective for service in God’s kingdom. To accomplish His goals, God wants us to take responsibility for our actions and to know that sin is serious business, that the fear of the Lord leads to life. One day we all will give
account for our choices. This reality actually terrified Paul and motivated him to strive to please God in everything he did (see 2 Corinthians 5:9–11).
In my walk with Christ, I (Arnie) have sometimes found myself directly in harm’s way. And during these moments, I’ve noticed three things going on inside me: I’ve feared for my own life, I’ve questioned whether I was ready to meet God, and I’ve felt the assurance of God’s protection.
It’s good to assess the condition of our hearts and, like Paul, strive to please God in everything we do. (Knowing that we’ll give account for our actions is a healthy fear.) Above all, it’s comforting to know that we are in the grip of His protection. Each time that I’ve gone up against the power of man, the power of God has overruled. God is all-powerful and eternal.
He protects us, nurtures our character, and drives out worldly fear.
· Be confident that a believer walks with the protection of our Lord Jesus Christ. And even though God calls us to bear some burdens, some hurts, and some trials, He will continue to work in us, giving us a heart like His.
· Keep in mind that our highest calling is living in respectful fear of the One who spoke the universe into being and who holds us in the palm of His loving hand.
· PRAY: “Lord help me to have a healthy fear of You, a reverence for You and Your ways.” Ask Jesus to drive out worldly fear.
Notes for Growth
A Key Point I Learned Today:
How I Want to Grow:
My Prayer List:
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