Just this morning I was reminiscing my recent conversations with women who have visited me this past week. Our rich conversations discussing our faith, our struggles, and our victories have overwhelmed me with joy.
I cannot believe that five different women spent hours with me this week in my home and blessing me with their time over coffee and delightful conversation. I consider each of them a sweet friend and God-fearing woman.
Yes, the term “God-fearing” came to mind when thinking about the qualities these women share. Presently, this is not a term we use or hear used by others. Some may consider it old-fashioned and possibly offensive.
I decided to sit in thought over the question,
“Why don’t we use the term God-fearing?”.
The simple answer is obvious. We don’t see evidence of a fear for God in the lives of many people. Well then, what does it mean to fear God? Furthermore, what do we fear instead?
First, let’s discuss what we do fear. The examples I can think of come from my own life and from what I observe in the lives of others.
We fear offending others and losing their approval. We fear being considered wrong. We fear our circumstances and the possible outcomes of our circumstances. We fear finances and health problems.
Ultimately, we fear anything that makes us uncomfortable, can possibly cause any amount of suffering no matter how inconsequential, and we fear the loss of pleasures we feel we are entitled to.
We fear uncertainties when, in fact, everything outside of God is uncertain. At the same time we want to reject the one constant and certain thing in life, and that is God’s sovereignty.
We fear the uncertain while simultaneously rejecting the only One who is certain.
Even my children are able to discuss with me this irony and that it is utterly foolish.
That brings me back to the other question, and that is, “What does it mean to fear God?”.
Immediately, a Scripture came to mind…
Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”
Let’s break this down, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”. This is referring to a loving reverence for the Lord as shown by our submission to His lordship over our lives.
This means a God-fearing person is one whose life reflects an admiration and devotion to the Lord while honoring and respecting His Word.
It is through this reverent submission that we acquire knowledge.
Conversely, “fools despise wisdom and discipline.”
Have you ever met someone you would label “book smart but not street smart”? Of course you have. We all know people with a high level of intellectual intelligence who makes basically stupid decisions.
I think we can agree there are different kinds of “smart” as evidenced by the Theory of Multiple Intelligences proposed by Howard Gardner in the 1980’s.
So, what does this have to do with wisdom? I would describe wisdom as a spiritual intelligence one can only acquire through their fear of the Lord.
We cannot gain wisdom on our own. It is essentially a gift given to us by our Lord through our submission to Him and seeking His presence.
In this way, it is a sacred treasure only to be released at the right time upon the prompting of the Holy Spirit (refer to Matthew 7:6).
Considering that wisdom from the Lord is so precious, why would anyone despise it?
In Proverbs it says that fools hate knowledge (1:22) and correction of any kind (12:1). Therefore, a fool does not have a loving reverence for the Lord and rebels against any correction.
Fools are quick to quarrel (20:3) and give full vent to their anger (29:11). Foolish people trust in themselves rather than God (Proverbs 28:26 and Psalm 14:1).
Does this sound like anyone you know? More importantly, ask yourself “does this sound like me?”.
When I think of foolishness and rebellion, I often think of young children and how we spend years teaching them, correcting them, and disciplining them.
We do this so that they will not become foolish and rebellious adults. Basically, we do not want to create inherently selfish toddlers living inside the body of an adult (i.e., quick to quarrel and quick to become angry).
In order to do this, our children must have a certain level of fear for the adults in their lives. I’m not talking about an authoritarian fear, but rather a loving reverence, admiration, and honor.
My challenge to you is to ask yourself some important questions.
Am I a God-fearing man or woman? Is it important to fear the Lord? Are we discussing the idea of a loving reverence for God with our children, our families, and our friends?
Have an honest dialogue with yourself and with others around you because I believe that not only is it okay to be a God-fearing people, but I would argue that it is necessary.