to fear God MORE
Can I admit something?
I'm a young woman that is sometimes paralyzed by fear.
roller coasters, heights, scary movies, confrontation, awkward phone calls.
Heck, wearing the wrong shoes out of the door.
If I'm not careful, I could let fear dominate my life. When I'm scared, I'll pick at it, kick it, obsess over it, stare at it in the face until I am just completely exhausted.
What I have found is that it is almost creepy how subtle fear can be.
Fear can ruin joy so fast. Fear and joy are complete opposites. So we have to make a choice. And for some reason that choice is difficult somehow, because we consume ourselves in our own puddles of fear. How does God want us to respond? What does He give us?
"for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control."
2 Timothy 1:7
When I begin to think and pray about fear, the story of Jesus walking on water comes to mind. It is one time where fear comes into play in the hearts of the disciples, and I totally resonate. Jesus asking me to walk on water would be pretty terrifying. We fear what we don't understand. How many times are we so so afraid of something and then afterwards we take a look back and we think,
"oh, that wasn't so bad"? How often does our fear simply stem from unknowing?
"27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus." Matthew 14:27-29
Jesus isn't upset at the disciples for being afraid. But isn't that kind of how we read it at first? "Do not be afraid, that's wrong." I think we can hear God's commands that way.
"Stop that." "Don't do that." "Don't do this."
And we can see His command of "Do not be afraid," in this passage the same way.
When Jesus says to the disciples, "Do not be afraid." He's saying
"Guys, you don't have to be afraid. Don't be afraid, because you don't have to be afraid. It's me. I'm here."
Jesus says to not be afraid because we don't have to be. I see that as unbelievably encouraging.
1 John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear."
Do you know how crazy this is? In the story, Jesus said that they did not have to fear. When they are in Jesus' presence, there is no fear because perfect love casts out fear. Because God is love, we also do not have to fear in our waves.
Jesus is perfect love. Jesus is the reason that we don't have to fear. He's defeated it. It's done. He took the strongest, most fearful thing we will ever face, death, and defeated it. HECK.
Our God wants to be trusted.
"Out of my distress I called on the LORD;
the LORD answered me and set me free. The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" Psalm 118:5-6
Our God is stronger than any circumstance we face, any person we face, any health battle we face, any financial debt we face, any negative reputation we face, any decision you make.
I recently had to make a really big decision myself that I was so afraid of. My husband could tell that I was struggling with the decision and so afraid. It took up so many of my thoughts, so much of my time. One evening he said,
"Do you fear ______ more than God?"
Under my breath, I whispered no. Only because I knew that was the right answer.
For the rest of the next day, I found myself chanting and writing down,
"fear God more than ___, fear God more than ___, fear God more than ___"
over and over again.
We often talk about fearing God, or how we should fear God -- ...what's the difference? What does it even mean? Why are we told to fear our heavenly father?
• To fear the Lord means to begin to understand
We have to develop a new understanding of the Lord before we can fear Him. It means that we can even begin to fathom the consequences of disobedience. We have to understand that God is serious about sin. A healthy fear of the Lord is a byproduct of an effort to understand eternal weight. When we begin to understand just how gigantic God is and his overwhelming amount of power, we shake in our boots a little bit. If who God is doesn't at least sometimes make you quake, we need a different view of Him.
“the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” Proverbs 1:7
• To fear the Lord is to respect
In the verse that comes before Jesus walking on water above, "When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out in fear." Matthew 14:26
The Greek noun here, phobos can mean “reverential fear” of God. Basically, it's not a mere fear of His power and righteous retribution as much as it is a wholesome dread of displeasing Him. Just like we get a little scared when we have 4 missed calls from mom. To fear the Lord is a response of reverence and wonder.
• To fear the Lord is to increase humility
When we realize just how B I G God is, we can be hit in the face by just how
s m a l l we are. Fear comes out of this idea in a natural way, a holy fear of God that begs humility in our lives.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9
When we truly fear the Lord out of this idea, we have union between mind, heart, and body. Because nothing can be isolated.
• To fear the Lord is to put life (everything) in perspective
Just like the reason of my husband asking me, "Do you fear ____ more than God?" our fear and reverence of the Lord brings our every circumstance into a different perspective. We just can't view our lives the same way when we even begin to fathom the sovereignty of God.
"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"
"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" Romans 8:31-32
We have to live our lives in an effort to understand who God is. A healthy fear of God comes from this. We cannot afford to put God in the boxes we believe He belongs in, especially if it doesn't include fearing Him. When we lay ourselves down in humility and in deep reverence to who God reveals Himself to be in our lives -- our daily fears begin to look smaller in comparison. In a healthy fear of Him, our worldly fear dies.*