Mat 10:28-33 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (29) Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. (30) But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. (31) Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (32) So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, (33) but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
When I say God, you say … Love. God is love. We learn this very early on in our Christian walk and it is the glue that bonds us to the Savior. One of the first scriptures a new believer memorizes is John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” The love of God is preeminent in the life of a Christian and should dictate everything we do. So knowing this amazing truth, where does fear fit into the equation?
In the tenth chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus is with His twelve disciples giving them many instructions. He tells them to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and make disciples. Jesus says to tell them the kingdom of heaven is at hand and instructs them to heal the sick and raise the dead. And he also tells them to not fear those who can kill the body but rather fear Him who can destroy both body and soul in hell. (Mat 10:28)
It is not the schemes and attacks of man we are to fear, but we are to fear God himself. The one who can rightly punish us for our transgressions and cast out the sinner for all of eternity apart from Him. Why would a loving and merciful Savior tell his disciples to fear him? Isn’t that like telling your child, “I love you son but remember one thing, I brought you into this world and I can take you out!”
To fear God is to have a deep respect and understanding of His holiness and grace. When we come to terms with our sinful condition and that we are not able to stand in His presence because of it, the fear of the wrath of God should motivate us to cry out to Him to save us. Some people say that fear is the great motivator. Others believe that motivation through fear is abuse and only positive things should motivate us. Regardless of your world view on the subject, one thing remains… Jesus tells us to fear the Lord.
John Bunyan puts it this way. “Christian, let God’s distinguishing love to you be a motive to you to fear Him greatly. He has put His fear in your heart, and may not have given that blessing to your neighbor, perhaps not to your husband, your wife, your child, or your parent. Oh, what an obligation should this thought lay upon your heart to greatly fear the Lord! Remember also that this fear of the Lord is His treasure, a choice jewel, given only to favorites, and to those who are greatly beloved.”
The fear of God is not something that should cause us to run from Him and hide, but rather, draw us closer to Him for protection. Moses tells the people of Israel that “God came in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” (Exo 20:20) And second Corinthians tells us (2Co 7:1) Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
The fear of the Lord should motivate our lives. It keeps us from sin, it gives us a reverence for His holiness, and the fear of the Lord puts God back where He belongs in our life; into the center of it. God’s perfect love is countered with His perfect justice and when He calls us into relationship with Him we avoid the wrath we deserve because of the justification we have in Jesus Christ. Live rightly before Him and fear Him and you will be counted worthy of the promise of Heaven.
Isaiah 8:13; Luke 12:7; Romans 10:9
Do you acknowledge the Lord before men? Do you fear their response?
Lord, help me not to be a man pleaser. I desire to serve you and seek you over all things. Give me an opportunity today to share you with someone I encounter. Amen