By REV SEIK PITOI
I was talking with some elders recently about the law and order problems that are plaguing our communities. They were lamenting the fact that there seemed to be no respect for elders nowadays among young people, and that drunkenness and drug abuse was becoming rampant.
Another spoke up about many young women who seemed to be giving themselves carelessly in immoral relationships. But after much discussion on this gloomy topic, one person summed it up this way – it happens because there is no more fear of God anymore!
What does it mean to fear God? Fear has many meanings. To fear means to be afraid. It is a normal thing for a person to be afraid at times.
For instance, with all the news of what is happening in the world today with the threats of nuclear warfare, deadly sicknesses that have no cure, and Islamic terrorists on the rise, fear continues to strike in many hearts.
Coming to our own nation, natural calamities like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions from the most unlikely places are causing fear in people’s hearts. Yes, fear is a normal reaction to events that we have no control over.
But today, we shall discuss another type of fear. We will not talk about the fear of man, fear of things, or fear of the future. We will be talking about fearing God.
The wise teacher in the book of Proverbs gives us a contrast of the wise and the foolish by saying:
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction (Prov 1:7). King David says the same thing in Psalm 111:10: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…”. It seems wisdom and knowledge have the same source – God!
The above tells us that God’s idea of wisdom is not like the world’s. The world says go to the greatest universities, study and fill you head with knowledge in order to be a wise person. But God says, “The Fear of the Lord” is the beginning of all wisdom and knowledge.
Wisdom comes from having deep respect and reverence for God and a proper attitude towards Him.
We see ther eare two ways to fear God. They are:
a) If you are not a Christian, your fear of God should be of trembling and dread, because the Bible says, “it is a fearful thing to fall in the hands of the Living God” (Heb 10:31). When you reject God’s free gift of salvation through His Son Jesus, you are headed for eternity damnation.
The Bible tells us in John 3:36 – “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” To reject God’s free gift of salvation means your sins are not dealt with. And with no Saviour, you will have to pay on Judgement Day (2 Peter 3: 7). Indeed, that is a frightening thought.
b) But if you are a Christian (if you have given your life to Jesus), your ‘Fear God’ command simply means to have deep respect and reverence for God. We do not fear and tremble before God in fear of judgement, because Jesus has paid for all our sins. We come before Him with reverence, respect, boldness and joy knowing He is our Father, not our Judge!
However, while we are in the age of grace, and while we know our God is Love – we must still have that deep reverential fear and the utmost respect for Him. When we do that, it will show out in our lives.
To ‘Fear God’ shows that God is holy, sovereign, all powerful, and all knowing – while we are small, tiny, insignificant human beings in comparison! Fear of God puts us in the right place.
The opening discussion talked about many things going wrong in our society today. One main issue discussed was lack of respect by youth for elders. The Bible says in the last days, one sign will be that children will be disobedient to their parents, and that there will be godlessness in the world – or having no fear of God (2 Tim 3:2-4)
For example, look at the situation with cults in schools. Cults are simply a demonic expression of disobedience and defiance towards parents, school authorities, and towards God. It is a child rising up and saying, “I don’t care for God and the authorities He has placed over me – including my parents!” This happens when there is no fear of God in the lives of the children.
Genuine fear of the Lord is always seen in obedience to the word of God. People who do not walk in line with the Word of God do not fear the Lord – regardless of what they profess with their lips.
That is why the discussion above with the elders proves to be true: we will live recklessly when we do not have fear or respect for God. Our reverence and respect for God causes us to obey His Word, which shows out as we live right in the community.
God’s commands and decrees are to guide us in our lives. Psalm 119: 105 says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (KJV). Indeed, the light of His word brings wisdom.
To conclude, men seek wisdom and knowledge everywhere. Many good people have come out with university degrees and fancy titles to tell us they are very clever people. Yet, some of these same people will lie, kill, steal and commit adultery. Why do many very clever people use their intellect to do bad things? Because their heads are so stuffed up with knowledge while their hearts are empty.
So is knowledge a bad thing? No. Everyone should seek academic excellence and strive to reach for the stars. However, knowledge in the head without God in our hearts is dangerous. Like the Scriptures say: Fear and reverence of God is the doorway to true wisdom and true knowledge.
In fearing God, may we see Him as our Father, and not fear Him as our judge!
- Rev Seik Pitoi is a freelance writer.