I remember when God saved me. I was so enthralled with the goodness of God’s grace that He had shown me. I couldn’t get enough of His word and church wasn’t a “religious chore” but a pleasure. Don’t get me wrong, life was still hard but I had something in my life that was healthy: the fear of God.
The word of God tells us in Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight (ESV.)” I had been given holy insight of the Holy One and that was a wonderful gift. I also found myself having to think biblically about the fear of the LORD because if I equated it with the fear that I had of my earthly father, it would have been a warped fear. My dad was a good dad and I never doubted his love for me, my mom and my brother. Yet, as he shared with me a few months before he went to be with Jesus, his lifelong struggle was anger. At times he had a very hard time allowing the Spirit to control his spirit which led to things he did and said, things that he verbally regretted. I realized that because of the way he reacted to certain situations, I had an improper fear of him. And if I wasn’t keenly aware of my intentions, I could easily carry that improper fear into my relationship with my heavenly Father. God gave me victory in that area, though if I am honest with you and myself, I still struggle with it at times.
Yet, over the years, I have found that the unholy and improper fear that I once had for my dad, creeping its way into ministry. I would not have admitted it to anyone, but deep in my heart, I feared what others thought of me. I even found myself trying to please people, not because I loved them but because I loved me and I wanted them to accept me.
Fear of man is one of the greatest detriments to any believer. Ed Welch said it so well in his book When People Are Big and God is Small “All experiences of the fear of man, share at least one common feature: people are big. They have grown to idolatrous proportions in our lives. They control us. Since there is no room in our hearts to worship both God and people, whenever people are big, God is not. Therefore, the first task in escaping the snare of the fear of man is to know that God is awesome and glorious, not other people.”
We MUST keep God in His proper place in our lives as the awesome and glorious Father who gave His only Son to make us His children. For that, we are to reverence Him and Him alone and make sure that He is the focus of our worship and not man. We either worship one or the other.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 states our call in this matter “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” Let’s make sure that we “fear” the One who is worthy of fear and not man!
The Gospel PostScript