Have you noticed how easy it is for all kinds of fear to coexist in your heart? You may, for instance, feel fearful for your children, your spouse, your friends, your finances, your future, and your health. You may be afraid of public speaking and taking tests and flying in planes and crossing bridges. When left unchallenged, fear can spread like a contagion inside us. Or maybe fear is something like a great big magnet, attracting more and more fear to our lives. If this is so, how can we neutralize its power?
Perhaps the only way to do this is to replace our fears with what I call a capital F kind of fear. I am thinking, of course, about what Scripture calls the “Fear of the Lord.” But doesn’t associating the word “fear“ with the word “Lord“ end up ramping up our fears, reviving all the old stereotypes about a wrathful God who is always angry? Not if we understand the term rightly. Scripture links fear of the Lord to many good things: wisdom, safety, long life, prosperity, and a sure foundation. Fear of the Lord can protect you from evil, death, bitterness, and ruin.
To fear the Lord is to revere him, to stand in awe of him, so much so that your primary aim is to please him above pleasing yourself or others. Like a young girl who feels secure while walking alongside her father, you heed his voice because you know that doing so will keep you from straying too close to the edge of a cliff or wandering off in the company of a stranger. You know that your heavenly Father has your best interests at heart. Fearing God produces a kind of foundational security, reducing and reordering the lesser fears that threaten you.
Scripture tells us that the fear of the Lord is a “life-giving fountain,” the beginning of wisdom, and the door to friendship with God. By fearing God, we reduce the other fears that plague us, avoiding evil and courting blessing.