August 2 I Sunday
“How abundant are the good things that You have stored up for those who fear You, that You bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in You.” —Psalm 31:19
The thing about fear is that it can be contagious. Like the fear of not having enough toilet paper during the COVID-19 pandemic; many people rushed to the stores filling their shopping cart with bags and bags of toilet paper. But this is the thing with fear: it drives us to do things that do not make sense and causes us to operate in irrational ways. Fear is not a great motivation to be driven by and sometimes, fear can slip into our Christianity.
Growing up, I had wonderful people in my childhood years as part of my church family, but the broader Christian community and generation that I grew up in had an insatiable appetite to let the culture around them know about the fear of hell. I remember vividly going to youth group one evening when the youth leaders decided to show the movie, A Thief in the Night. The movie was about the end times and the return of Jesus to take His church to be with Him, leaving all other residents of humanity to suffer on earth. The whole movie was designed to elicit the fear of being left behind. In honesty, when I watched that film in my youth group, it did the job––it made me fearful. I was afraid that Jesus would not take me to be with Him, so I would give my life, then rededicate my life, because fear started to take root in my understanding of who God is.
Scripture tells us, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…” (Proverbs 9:10). Our fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom but it is not the end destination. When we study the book of Proverbs and the fear of the Lord, the Hebrew word used for “fear” actually means, “awe, wonder and reverence” for who God is. Our fear of the Lord puts us onto a path of understanding that there is a Creator responsible for all of creation; the One who
formed us, the earth and everything in it, as well as the cosmos all around us.
Proverbs presents the fear of the Lord as a positive thing: it leads to life, provides security and helps us make good choices. However, I grew up with an overemphasis on the punishment and judgment that did not produce an accurate reflection of the type of relationship we are invited into with God. May we find encouragement from the words of the psalmist: “But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine” (Psalm 33:18-19).
Prayer: Lord God, teach me to have a proper fear of You that leads to a joyful, true understanding of who You are. Thank You for Your unfailing love for me. May my relationship with You be securely built upon it.