The word fear brings many connotations depending on your life experiences. Some equate fear with terror and trembling. Others equate it with awe or respect. We all fear something: fear of death, fear of loneliness, fear of being embarrassed, fear of failure. Maybe, then, it's not really a matter of having no fear but a matter of having the right kind of fear.
Proverbs 19:11 has already made it clear that it is right and good to fear the Lord. We have looked a little at why we would even want to fear the Lord, who is the most powerful and mighty King of all kings. A genuine person understands who God is and who we are in relation to God.
But what does it look like to fear the Lord? I would like to give an illustration on the concept of fear that my youth pastor Joe gave us when I was a teen. This illustration powerfully shaped my understanding of fearing the Lord.
I have a fear of electricity. I would venture to say that most of those reading this post do, too, even if you don't realize it. What I mean by that claim is this: I understand the power of electricity, and my understanding of electricity changes the way I live. For example, when it is storming and lightning outside, I do not climb to the top of the tallest tree or stand on our metal roof. In fact, I don't even remain outside at all if I can help it, because I know that lightning can kill me.
When I use my hair dryer in the morning, I do not stand in puddles of water. I even go so far as to clean off any water drops on the counter near my hair dryer's cord, because again, I do not want to be electrocuted. When you visit my house, you will see all of the unused electrical outlets covered with little plastic inserts. These inserts prevent any children in my home from innocently sticking an item into those outlets. Electricity is powerful, and when it is encountered in an unsafe/unstable environment, I know it can be deadly.
I do not, however, scream in terror when someone turns a light switch on in a room. I do not creep low outdoors on a bright and sunny day, fearful that a rogue lightning bolt might strike and kill me. I understand the power of electricity, but my fear of its power does not permeate every moment of my life. My fear of electricity is a healthy one that shapes the way I live.
Our fear of the Lord should be the same. Fearing God means grasping His power, worshipping His might, trembling before Him, because He is so great and we are so miniscule. In the previous post, we merely scratched the surface of understanding the power of God, but even that little bit should leave us with chills. However, what we know of God's character allows us freedom to also know He isn't an angry God who annihilates people at His whim.
Our fear of the Lord encompasses an understanding of all these things: His power and holiness, His love and kindness, His grace and righteousness. As believers, it motivates us to strive for holiness and purity, but it also gives us freedom to embrace His forgiveness in our sins and failures. Knowing and fearing God should change and shape the way we live. We do not stay in our sins or take a lackadaisical approach toward impurity in our lives because we know it is the antithesis of who God is. We strive to be more like Him, instead.
Being a genuine person first starts at understanding Who is at the center of this universe, and that typically means dethroning ourselves and raising Him high as King of all kings. It is at this point that we are able to confidently begin the journey toward living as authentic people.