Fear of the Lord gets watered down anymore when people say, “Well, it doesn’t mean we fear the Lord but that we respect Him.” Not totally true. It does mean we respect Him AND it does mean we FEAR Him. There’s no way around it.
I did a word study on fear once trying to find it to be true that it was respect. Somehow I was thinking that was better than “fear.” Well, my studies told me that the word “fear” meant “fear.” Fear is fear. “Hmmm,” I thought, “Ok, it’s fear, Lord, so please put more of the fear of God in me.” That was my prayer.
Proverbs 9:10 says: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.“ AND Proverbs 1:7 says: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”**
Wisdom is the doing of knowledge. It’s the “living it out” part and the application part of knowledge. To be wise is to be a doer. Jesus was the wisest man who ever lived.
So, did Jesus fear the Lord? In Luke 2:52, it says: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”** Therefore, if He grew in wisdom, He first had to fear the Lord. His fear was not like ours – momentary outbursts of fear – but it was sustained throughout His life and was not sinful. But yes in a human sense, Jesus had to have feared the Lord since He submitted to the Father; therefore, you and I must fear Him and submit to Him, also.
Allistair Begg explained this concept of fear and I’ll paraphrase what I gleaned from him. He was commenting on Ecclesiastes 12:13-14: “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” Begg said that life is not trivial or irrelevant since we are to fear God and keep His commandments. It’s not servile fear (which means harsh or cruel) which is the fear of what God might do to me since we are His children. Rather, it is fear of what I might do to Him when I sin and “shame” His glorious reputation.
Are you afraid that your actions might drag God’s reputation through the mud since people know you are a Christian? Then, you should fear Him and do what is right at all times, even when no one is looking!
Even the thief on the cross understood fearing God in Luke 23:39-43: “One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
One thief never feared the Lord. The other one came to fear the Lord while on the cross and now he is with Jesus in heaven!
I’d say this is an important Christian concept not to lose sight of.
-Mark (praying and asking the Lord to put the fear of Him in me EVERY day)
**The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.