Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A God Fearing Man

I have a question, what does it mean to be a God fearing man?
I ask this because it doesn’t make since to me since God loves me and protects me, so it doesn’t feel right to fear him. That’s not to say that I do not respect his power, because I know he is able to squish me like a bug if he wanted to.

                                My oldest son asked me this question via a message on facebook.  At first, the question took my breath away.  How in the world do I answer this?  My first thoughts flew to the Old Testament when God seemed to be angry a lot sending plagues and destruction.  Yet, I also thought of being in awe of God and how His power is so great that it would be scary to meet up with it face to face.  I mean, how many of us would freak out if a burning bush started to speak to us.  I know I don’t think I would handle the bush with much grace.
                        To start my research, I went to the dictionary because I really believed the key was in the definition of fear.  First I looked up “God fearing man” and found in the Free Dictionary by Farlex “pious; devout.  Deeply religious.”  Well, nothing there states anything about being scared.  Next I looked up “fear” in Dictionary.com’s.  The fourth definition states “reverential awe, especially toward God: the fear of God.  Synonyms: awe, respect, reverence, veneration.”  So the simple answer is a God fearing man equals a piously devout man with awe, respect, reverence and veneration for his God.  Well, that was easy, but I wanted to continue my research through the Bible.
In the Bible, many references to fearing God give the text instruction how to fear God.  Proverbs 1:7 states, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; wisdom and instruction fools despise.”  Well, here we go.  We need to grow in our knowledge and wisdom of God through instruction.  We need to read, go to church, and retreats.  I definitely don’t want to be a fool.  I also liked the note, “Fear of the Lord; reverential fear and respect for God on account of his sovereignty, goodness and justice toward men.  This is the foundation of religion.”  We are to build our house on this rock, not the sand of the fool.
Continuing with the theme, Deuteronomy 31:12  “Assemble the people-men, women and children, as well as the aliens who live in your communities-that they may hear it and learn it, and so fear the Lord, your God, and carefully observe all the words of this law.”  “It” refers to the law given to Moses.  The law is their faith, their beliefs.  We need to hear and learn our faith whether the faith comes from the Catholic church, Lutheran church, any church you attend.  By becoming knowledgeable in the teaching of our churches we will be stronger in our devotion to God.
So many people pay lip service to their faith.  I find myself falling at times from the material items of our world.  Instead I need to listen to this verse.  “Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve him completely and sincerely.  Cast out the gods your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord” Joshua 24:14.  The gods talked about in this passage are gods of old.  The other gods of today are power, riches, rock or movie stars, drugs, alcohol, or mansions.  Anytime we put something or someone before God we create a god.  Instead fear the Lord.
As expected, I found many verses about fear.  I didn’t expect Mary, the mother of Jesus, to have talked about fearing God.  In the Canticle of Mary, Luke 1:46-55, she speaks of God to Elizabeth.  “His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him” Luke 1:50.  Our price for fearing God is mercy.  This doesn’t mean we won’t have our share of suffering, but His Mercy comes to us through His son Jesus. 
A little dose of fear is good for us.  I fear icy roads and fire.  My respect for both causes me to proceed with care to keep me and my loved ones safe from harm.  I also avoid icy roads if I am able.  “Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid, for God has come to you only to test you and put his fear upon you, lest you should not sin’” Exodus 20:20.  We are not to “fear” God or His tests, but we are to “fear” sinning.  God does this to keep us safe.  Sin leads to all sorts of bad outcomes and He doesn’t want that for his children.  I need to avoid sin more then I avoid icy roads.
I have always thought of God as my father.  My own father has characteristics like God as he should since he is made in the image of God.  As a child, I feared my dad.  Many of you know my dad and know he is a big old teddy bear; however, I still feared him because I sat in awe and respect of him.  I didn’t want to get into trouble because I feared the outcome, the disappointment.  I feel the same about my Lord.  I don’t want to sin because I fear the consequences of the sin and God’s disappointment in that act of rebellion.  God and my dad love me more then I could ever understand.  Yet, I will always “fear” them.
Blessings to you all.

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