“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. My son, hear the instruction of your father…” Proverbs 1:7-8a
Perhaps you are familiar with this verse above. Most believers who journey through the Proverbs grab hold of this truth as it alerts the heart and mind to a central truth of life. But I often find that at people’s core, many don’t grasp the significance of all that this entails. I would assume that all of us want wisdom and knowledge. It was Solomon’s ultimate request of God in his youthful divine dream. And of course, this becomes a central theme of Solomon’s Proverbs. The path to this knowledge is clearly the fear of the Lord. But here is the issue that is often overlooked, what is the fear of the Lord? Such a simple thing but I have found in my inquiry amongst friends most haven’t contemplated its essential foundation.
When I ask people as to what they believe the fear of the Lord is, most settle on the obvious – “Deeply respect Him and to be in fearful awe of God who is All Powerful.” For sure this is absolutely correct. However, I believe there is one more step closer to living this out in a practical sense when one considers Solomon’s reflection at the end of his life. It’s found in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” This was written at the sunset of Solomon’s life after he reflects on all of his folly confessing that he squandered his days living for the pleasures, experiences and accomplishments of earth’s deceptive and fleeting gratifications. And please note that there is nothing wrong with pleasure and accomplishment. Yet it was the focus and direction of his life that was amiss. Solomon failed to embrace the central issue of the fear of the Lord from which his wisdom and knowledge was to be bestowed. And sadly, it’s at the end of his life that he finally awakens to the promise of his youthful dream. And it is this burden that Solomon wants to share with his son in the writing of Proverbs; hence, “My son, hear the instruction of your father.”
At the heart of the fear of the Lord is the realization that each and every one of us will some day stand before God to give an eternal account for our brief time on earth. And even more so, everything will be exposed with nothing held back or hidden. As Paul wrote, “…in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.” (Romans 2:16) You will find that this revelation is all through the Bible. The secrets will be laid bare before the eyes of the Lord. The Scriptures sometimes refer to this period as “that Day.” There is a day when we will all given an account. Sadly most people don’t ponder the significance of “that Day.” They tend to neglect the fear of God in deference to misappropriating the grace of God. Both grace and truth are eternal realities but how we live out our priorities and values on earth, gives evidence of our true character and faith. For those who are allured to live solely for the temporal and yet rest on the grace of God’s mercy, give evidence of a misguided faith. True faith results in an eternal perspective of our accountability to a Holy God who sees our every thought, motive, word, attitude and behavior. However, we shouldn’t negate God’s mercy either, thinking it’s by our works that we must earn our acceptance before God. God is both just and the justifier of those who have faith in Jesus. He is gracious but also holy and we must always live in that balance of Biblical faith. Sorry if this all sounds so ethereal and theologically lofty, but truly this is a burden of my heart since so many people view church as a place they go to, rather than a person they are to be, under the calling of God.
Awhile back I was babysitting my grandkids at a park near their home. What joy to be digging in the sand with their sand-toys. A neighborhood kid close to their age moved nearby and borrowed a shovel. Gently and respectfully my 5-year old granddaughter took back her shovel and she moved us all to another part of the sand area further away. The neighbor child eventually ended up making his play spot close to us again seeking to borrow a toy, to which my granddaughter pack up and moved again. Once settled, I realized that this was a teachable moment. I told that sometimes it is a good thing to share with others. After a brief pause of reflection, she quipped, “sometimes it is a good thing to share and sometimes it’s not a good time to share. This is one of those times when it’s not a good time to share.” Such a cherished memory I have of that moment when I burst out in love and laughter for my grandkids.
The lessons of life find their seeds planted very early. Truly life at its core is amassed with moment-by-moment choices. And these choices give evidence of the true nature of our faith and beliefs. In cognizance of this fact, it would be my prayerful encouragement to you to seek to live in an awareness of God’s presence every waking moment of your life. I believe it is there that you will find that the life in the Spirit gives rise to the greatest peace and joy that God wants for you. And it is there that the fear of the Lord is experienced and wisdom is birthed. Hence, I would like to share with you my life verse: “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11) In agreement with the heart of Solomon, hear the instruction of a pastor. Sometimes it’s a good time to share, and this is one of those times to learn an essential truth of God as you grow as a person after God’s heart.