The Fear of the Lord, Part II
Last week we saw what the Fear of the Lord is and why it is the begining of
wisdom. Today, as we continue tracing this fascinating phrase through the
Book of Proverbs, we will look at the Fruit of fearing the Lord and how to
The Fruit of fearing the Lord includes:
- A HOLY LIFE (3:7, 16:6, 8:13).
Obviously, the greater our fear of the
Lord, the more seriously we will take His commandments. But the connection
between fearing Him and a holy life goes much deeper than that. While it is
very useful to know the Rules, the Christian life is not primarily about
keeping rules; it is first about a Relationship. If the fear of the Lord
is the beginning of wisdom, then only when we are rightly related to Him can
we begin to apply the Law in ways that will bring Him glory and do good to
ourselves and our fellow man. Otherwise, we either despair completely or
just turn ourselves into a new generation of self-righteous Pharisees. The
attitude toward God and His creation that flows from truly fearing Him,
which can only flow from a real relationship with Him through faith in
Christ, is the indispensable context for the pursuit of real goodness.
- A FEARLESS LIFE (14:26).
Ironically, the Fear of the Lord, like
perfect Love, casts out fear. If we truly fear God, in other words, then we
need not fear anyone else. What can mere man do to us? Torture us to death
as martyrs, for one thing. But it is only the Fear of the Lord, not our own
internal resources of stoic strength, that can let us face the worst that
man or devil can do with equanimity and confidence.
- A CONTENTED LIFE (15:16, 23:17).
Better is a little with the Fear of
the Lord than great riches with turmoil. The Fear of the Lord helps us keep
things in perspective. If we fear Him as we should, then material things
can never have quite the same hold on us. Like Tolkien's hobbits, we will
enjoy them greatly because we are capable of doing without them. Only as we
truly fear the Lord can we learn with Paul to be content in whatever state
we find ourselves.
- A LONG LIFE (10:27, 3:1-2).
The tendency of the Fear of the Lord is
to give you a longer life, and better health for a longer portion of it.
Obviously, many devout Christians die young and many profane people live to
a ripe old age. But we are dealing with proverbs here, not absolutes. A
proverb is a generalization distilled from long human experience and put
into a pithy epigram. Solomon's were inspired, but they still have the
nature of proverbs. So there are going to be exceptions, but in general the
Fear of the Lord tends to promote long life. If we view our bodies as His
property given to us in stewardship, we are going to take care of them, not
burden them with tobacco or excessive alcohol or recreational drugs.
Perhaps more significantly, the Fear of the Lord, as we have already seen,
tends to courage and contentment. Medical science is increasingly learning
more about the role of stress, guilt, and anxiety in fostering disease,
particularly those two great killers Heart Disease and Cancer. Fearing the
Lord makes it easier to avoid turning these powerful dark and negative
emotional, psychological, and spiritual forces inward on ourselves, and
hence to avoid the damage they do to the whole person, including the body.
- A PRODUCTIVE LIFE (31:30). The great productivity of the Virtuous
Woman of Proverbs 31 is here attributed to her fear of the Lord. No doubt
the same principle would apply to men. Why? Because one who fears the Lord
truly is going to live a life of purpose, focused on His glory, and freed
from the distractions that crowd into the lives of those not anchored by a
relationship to God taken seriously as God.
Therefore, because of all these
things, the final fruit of Fearing the Lord is
- A FULFILLED LIFE (22:4).
The reward of fearing the Lord is riches,
honor, and life. The fear of the Lord is essential to setting foot on the
path of wisdom that leads here. It does not mean that every person who
fears God will automatically experience all the fruits we have delineated.
Solomon says that the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, not the
whole thing. One also needs common sense, he whole counsel of God, and His
grace! But none of these avail for those who do not start here.
Well, then: if the Fear of the Lord is so important, HOW DO WE CULTIVATE
IT? The answer is found in Prvb. 2:1-12. First, immerse yourself in
Scripture (2:1). Second, seek God and His ways intensely therein (2:2-3).
Third, make it a priority (2:4). Then, Solomon promises in v. 5, you will
discern the fear of the Lord. Of course: for Scripture is the primary
place where God is revealed to us in all His splendor, majesty, power,
justice, and grace. And then 2:5-12 will begin to be true of us. May God
make it so in our lives.
Here endeth the lesson.