What does it mean to fear God?

“You may receive this dogma of one great thinker, or that dream of another profound reasoner, but what the chaff is to the wheat, that will these be to the pure word of God. All that reason, when best guided, can find out is but the A B C of truth…” (Spurgeon).

Today I am contemplating wisdom. Proverbs tells us that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of God. Normally I would think that wisdom comes from signing up for a class or opening a text book or hearing an intellectual argument. But no ~ Wisdom starts with the fear of God.

What does this mean? At first glance, fearing God sounds to be something negative due to our modern day use of the word “fear”. However, in the Bible, this is a different sort of fear. Instead of “servile fear” – what we commonly associate with getting caught and punished, Christians are to embrace a “filial fear”, which means that we fear offending one whom we love. When I am doing something during my day which is not in the way of righteousness, I know it.

As I walk with the Lord, I discover that God poses an ominous threat to my ego, but not to me. He rescues me from my delusions, so he may reveal the truth that sets me free. He casts me down, only to lift me up again. He sits in judgment of my sin, but forgives me nevertheless.

I recognize that choice I have to obey or not. When I decide to go ahead and do it anyway, I am blatantly prideful, essentially telling God that my way of doing things is better. By doing so, I detach myself from God and now I am on my own. Thankfully, I have the Gospel of Jesus to fall back upon. I have the freedom to turn back and reconnect.

In this way, true Wisdom is to stay near to him, to love him in my actions, to fear disappointing and offending him. I am wise to fear detachment from his will. This is what it means to fear God.

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