The key to success in life is simple, though profound. It can be stated in three propositions: (1) “There is a God.”, (2) “You are not Him.”, and, (3) “You are to revere, worship and obey the God who is.” The book of Proverbs was written to give us the wisdom and discipline we need to live skillfully and successfully in God’s world. You cannot be successful in God’s world until you acknowledge that it is His world (Psalm 100:1-3). Only God sits on the throne—and it’s not a love seat! We don’t share the throne with God. We answer to Him; he does not answer to us. The only proper response to God is one of reverence, worship and obedience. To know God, to really know him, to really see him for who he is, is to provoke in us a holy fear and reverence (Proverbs 1:7). Isaiah’s response is typical of other instances where God revealed himself to man (Isaiah 6:1-5). Compare Isaiah’s response of godly fear and reverence to your posture toward God. I fear that in our desire to create an atmosphere of worship that is contemporary and comfortable we have managed to minimize God’s majesty. Our attitude toward him is too smug, too arrogant, too cavalier, too presumptuous.
Some of you are thinking, “Isn’t ‘fearing God’ just an O-l-d Testament concept?” Not hardly; take a look at 1 Peter 2:17 and Acts 9:31. “But Doug, isn’t there a verse somewhere that says something about perfect love driving our fear?” Yes there is, but 1 John 4:18 is not denying the need for the creature to have a reverent and holy fear of his Creator, it is simply teaching that mature believers need not fear the day of judgment. In fact, a holy fear of God is imperative if we are to live wisely and skillfully in god’s world. It gives us a proper orientation in life. Those who fear God don’t live as though they are the center of the Universe. They realize that they have someone to whom they must answer. Their values are rooted in eternal verities rather than temporal pleasures. Without fear of God we are like a pilot flying blind at night without instruments. We have no ultimate reference point. Such a person cannot be successful in God’s world.
A holy fear of God protects us from much of life’s pain and trouble. Much of the pain that we experience in life is the result of the principle of sowing and reaping (Galatians 6:7-8; Proverbs 16:6-7). A holy fear of God also makes us better parents (Proverbs 14:26). In a home where God is feared there are boundaries. A holy fear of God contributes to good health and a long life (Proverbs 10:27). Those who fear God are going to experience a lot less of the guilt which leads to a host of maladies such as ulcers, migraine headaches, and high blood pressure. Those who are plagued by guilt are more likely to engage in other destructive behaviors in order to dull the pain of a misdirected life (Proverbs 3:2 & 20:27).
So, we cannot be successful in God’s world without fearing him—but how does one go about cultivating and nurturing fear of God? (1) As you read your Bible, look for evidences of his great power and majesty (for example, in Genesis 1-2 and 7-8; throughout Exodus; and 1 Samuel 17). (2) Do a personal study on God’s attributes, such as his eternality, omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence (Psalm 90:2; 102:12; 139:1-6; 147:4; 1 Kings 8:27; Isaiah 66:1; Jeremiah 23:23-24; Matthew 6:8; 10:28-30; 19:26; Luke 1:37; Acts 7:48-49). You also can study his truth, grace, justice, unity, holiness, and love. Surely such a study will expand your view of God and cultivate a healthy reverential fear. You will become convinced that there is a God—and you are not him!
Application / Challenge
- As you read your Bible, look for evidences of his great power and majesty.
- Do a personal study of God’s attributes.