Proper Fear

We live in a world where fear is commonplace, but it is not always proper fear.  Both before and after the election we have heard a lot about fear.  Maybe you yourself have been fearful.  We too often place our trust in men to save us or to promote our cause that we become fearful when our candidate doesn’t get into office.  There is a lot of fear surrounding many issues in our nation; fear regarding race issues, fear regarding healthcare, fear regarding jobs, fear regarding persecution and oppression (real or imagined), fear regarding the environment, fear regarding immigration, fear regarding education, fear regarding religion, fear regarding the Supreme Court.  The list could go on and on.  We are afraid of everything except the one whom we should fear.

Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”  The fear of the Lord and the knowledge of God should be our first priority in life.  All other fear is misplaced.  For when I know God, when I study his character and his attributes, then I realize how my fear in all these other things is wrong.  For if I cannot trust God to be faithful to His Word, than it does not matter if the world falls apart all around me.

The one who does not trust in God is not wise.  He is foolish.  A lot of the fear, and fear mongering, in our world today is based on foolishness.  For those who do not know God and are afraid (of these various things), are they more afraid of sin and disobedience to God and a righteous standard than they are of their particular issue?

These are only three examples I have heard of fear in the last week or so.  1) There are those who are afraid of losing their healthcare if Obamacare is changed or overturned.  Should they not be more concerned that a government forcing citizens through their taxes to pay for the healthcare of others is un-Biblical and immoral?  2) There are those who are afraid that they may be looked down upon or ostracized for their lifestyle of homosexuality.  Should they not be more fearful that this sinful lifestyle, condemned by the Word of God, will put them in hell if not repented of?  3) There are those who are fearful that those who are here illegally may be deported and families could be broken up and suffer.  Should they not be more concerned with the fact that they are here illegally and not abiding by the lawful immigration laws of a nation that are meant to protect all citizens, and, yes, we can debate, and often do, which laws governments should impose or not impose.  The bigger question remains, who do we fear more, God or man?

In Matthew 10 Jesus speaks about persecution of his people that is to come and he states in Matthew 10:28, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”  

Do we fear the one who can kill the body?  Or, do we fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell?  Do we have a proper fear of God?  Even as Christians I am not sure that we do.  While we are quick to say that it is wrong for us to deliberately hurt the feelings of others who are fearful around us, are we just as concerned about the souls of those who are fearful?  Are we more concerned about patting the un-believer on the back and telling him it is going to be “ok”?  Or, are we kindly and lovingly telling him that, rather than fear man, you need to fear the judgment of God, and you need to turn from your sin and repent?

The only calls for repentance I have heard in the last week are to repent from gloating over the election results (if your particular candidate won), and a call to repent from hurting other people’s feelings.  I haven’t heard a loud and clear call from the Church to repent from your desire to steal other people’s money through government theft.  Repent from destroying property in protest.  Repent from violence upon others who voted differently than you did.  Repent from your sinful sexual lifestyle.  Repent from your racism.  Repent from your breaking of immigration laws.  Repent from your disregard for God’s Word.  Repent from your disregard of the Lord’s Day.  Repent from your pride and arrogance (unless it is in gloating or hurting other people’s feelings).  Repent from trusting in men rather than God.  Repent of your worship of the news media.  Repent of your acceptance of immoral, sexual, violent and ungodly music, books, movies and television.  Repent of spending more time on Facebook and Twitter than you do with your family and reading Scripture together.  Oh, we all have a lot to repent of!   And we are not at all fearful of God as we should be.  We are fools, not wise, for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

At the end of the day I am more concerned about your soul than I am about your feelings.  Every single one of us needs to repent of sin.  If we start there, perhaps some of these other issues will go away, or at least lessen considerably.  As I look at our nation after the election, not much has changed.  We are still sinful and we are still very divided because of our sin.  Let us not be deceived.  Unity will not be found in Washington, D.C..  Unity will not be found in a plea to get along or be good neighbors.  Unity will not be found in right laws being passed.  Unity is found and true peace is found only in the Prince of Peace.  If we desire change, it starts with loving God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength, and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves.  Loving God means I strive to obey every single thing that God’s Word tells me.  And, I repent where I fall short.  Loving my neighbor means I don’t put my arm around him and tell him he is “ok” living in his sin, but I tell him the good news of Jesus Christ, and I tell him to fear God and to repent.  To love my neighbor means that I warn him of the fires of hell.  Anything less is a denial of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.