REFLECTION: What is meant by fearing God?

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The fear of God is not the fear of the judgment of God and eternal death, which is eternal separation from God (Luke 12:5; Hebrews 10:31). The fear of God is something much different. The Christian’s fear is reverence of God. Hebrews 12:28-29 is a good description of this: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” This reverence and awe is exactly what the fear of God means for Christians. This is the motivating factor for us to surrender to the Creator of the Universe.

Proverbs 1:7 declares, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” Until we understand who God is and develop a reverential fear of Him, we cannot have true wisdom. True wisdom comes only from understanding who God is and that He is holy, just, and righteous. Deuteronomy 10:12, 20-21 records, “And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Fear the LORD your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. He is your praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.” The fear of God is the basis for our walking in His ways, serving Him, and, yes, loving Him.

Some redefine the fear of God to “respecting” Him. While respect is definitely included in the concept of fearing God, there is more to it. A biblical fear of God includes understanding how much God hates sin and His judgment on sin. Hebrews 12:5-11 describes God’s discipline of the believer. While it is done in love (Hebrews 12:6), it is still a fearful thing. As children, the fear of discipline from our parents prevents us against some evil deeds. The same should be true in our relationship with God. We should fear our God in reverence, and therefore seek to live our lives in such a way that pleases Him.

Do you fear God? During the Holy Communion Sunday Service, the pastor would always announce: “Follow the instruction of the ushers to come forward to receive the Holy Communion and when at the table kneel from the centre to the side.” How many of us follow these instructions? To me, following instructions is one of the practices that we bring the fear of God into actions. Why do we need to overtake those in front of us to partake the Holy Communion? If we want to partake the Holy Communion early, then sit in the front row. Since children can also partake in the Holy Communion, then it is not necessary for one parent to go first.

We should not be scared or afraid of God. We have no reason to be scared of Him for He is an all loving God. We have His promise that nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39). We have His promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

Fearing God means having such a reverence for Him that it has a great impact in the way we live our lives. The fear of God means respecting Him, obeying Him, submitting to His discipline, and worshipping Him in awe.

By Tiong Ho Sion
Faith Methodist Church, Kuching
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