The fear of the Lord is his treasure – Isaiah 33:6

I love the fear of the Lord, that concept.  I know that sounds weird.  But let me explain myself.  We all fear something or someone.  Just like we all worship something.  In fact, I will go as far as to say that God has MADE us to fear and to worship.  Those tendencies are wired into us.  Our problem comes when we fear or worship anything other than God.

So who might we fear?  I actually fear others, what others MIGHT think of me.  That holds me back from doing what I should.

If you knew me, you would be surprised.  I appear to be a very self-confident and competent woman who is outgoing.  But my secret, paralyzing fear is this:  if I talk about Jesus to either strangers OR friends who are not Christians, they are going to:

a)   Think that I am a________ (picture in your mind the most simpleton/hokey/red-neck, drooling Christian you can imagine) and/or

b)   They are going to want to avoid me the next time our paths cross and I am going to know why!

Both of those scenarios are distasteful to me.

Because of what I fear, I don’t talk directly about Jesus.  Diagnosis?  I fear man rather than God.  Why do I value and seek THEIR approval and high regard more than God’s?  Do I really think so little of Jesus’ work on the cross that I am loathe to bring it up amidst people drowning in their own sin? Good question!  I don’t know.  But I do know it is wrong.

Since undertaking a challenge with my young friend Caitlin, I have grown more aware of this misplaced fear.  Caitlin is 17 years old.  She and I recently read a book by James Boccardo, Unsilenced:  How to Voice the Gospel.  Caitlin read it once and started talking to people about Jesus.  I had read it twice when she emailed me a couple of weeks ago.  Caitlin has been talking about life after death and Jesus to Wal-Mart greeters, Dollar Store employees, and her supervisor where she volunteers. How’s that for guts! Her boldness shamed me into finally taking the plunge.  Stalling, waiting around, talking about, re-reading the book had produced no magic melting away of fear.

I am comforted and encouraged to know that Caitlin is praying for me as I stick my big toe into this new experience.  So far, my imagined scenarios have not materialized with the three people I’ve approached.  Nonetheless, daily I have to talk to myself about why fearing the Lord is much better than fearing man.

God’s Word reminds us in many places (just do a search on ‘fear of the Lord’) of the treasures that are waiting for us if we fear Him.  So what does fear mean?   Fearing God is all about wanting to please Him, revering Him, worshipping Him, making Him more important than anything else.  Fear or the Hebrew word yir’ah (Strongs 3374) is about having the correct attitude toward God.  It’s not slavish cowering, but respectful acknowledgment of who God is and our place as His creature. After all, He controls all things including me.   This kind of fear or respect is like how I imagine a blacksmith might treat his burning hot tools.  He knows the dangers and how close he can get to the heat.  Knowing the boundaries gives him freedom to perform his artistry and craft with confidence.

When we know who God is and understand our relationship to Him as a dependent daughter or son, infinitely loved by Him, we hold the key to a treasure trove.  So the proper yir’ah or fear of the Lord is the beginning of a rich relationship.

Everyone knows the Proverb 1:7 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  We cannot even begin to understand God without this mindset.  The prophet Isaiah called this attitude toward God one of the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit. If we are His, if we are born again and have the Holy Spirit in us, this is what God promised Jesus and us, His brothers and sisters……

And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear.  (Is 11: 2-3)

I am thankful for Caitlin.  Knowing that she is out there, holding her light up in the  midst of a dark world, talking about eternal matters with her ‘neighbors’ makes it easier for me.  God doesn’t ask for success; He asks for a willing and dependent heart.  Look what He promises us for trusting in His provision and stepping out:

The fear of the Lord leads to life and whoever has it rests satisfied.  Prov 19:23a