We all know that we are to fear the Lord; not in terms of being afraid of Him, but in reverencing Him (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10). We reverence God when we understand who He truly is, and it makes us walk circumspect before Him. We appreciate His might, power, sovereignty, omnipotence, and mercy; and this knowledge commands our respect.
yir'ah - Hebrew word meaning awesome or terrifying, fearing, revered, piety.Yet, if the truth is to be known, there are often things that we fear more than God. How do I know? Because these are the things which rob us of our peace. These are the things for which we compromise on the word of God. It always comes down to us sacrificing that which is eternal for that which is temporal.
"And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Matthew 10:28
Jesus knew that we are prone to fear the temporal more than the eternal, which is why He gives us the warning above. He knows that the things we fear most are usually that which deals with our lives in this world: loss of reputation, loss of finances, loss of health, loss of family, etc.
How many are serving God out of fear of some calamity; hoping and praying that God will keep it from you? You can never truly serve God like that. Let me repeat that. If part of your serving God is based upon you avoiding some negative situation, then you have not yet learned Christ as you ought.
Some may ask, "What about Hell? Shouldn't we serve God so that we won't go to Hell?" While a recognition of your sinful state and the judgment due to sinners is certainly a part of us waking out of a delusion and coming to truth, the heart of true worshipers are not serving God because they are afraid to go to Hell. Those who are serving God out of that type of fear actually really hate God deep down inside...no matter what they profess verbally. Carlton Pearson put it best when discussing how he came to realize that he hated God:
"I resented God. If you fear God the way we are taught to fear Him, you'll serve Him, you'll believe in Him, you'll worship Him, but you probably will never really love Him."God does not give us a spirit of fear, so then how can that type of fear be a factor in our serving Him (II Timothy 1:7)? It isn't.
deilia - Greek word meaning timidity, fearfulness, cowardice."There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." I John 4:18
Love must be the foundation upon which we are reconciled with God or else we are in idolatry. Idols can not only be what we like, but what we fear. And do you know what God does with idols? He smashes them to pieces.
If there is something we fear more than God, then He must remove that fear from our lives so that we may be perfected. How does He remove that fear? By making us face it. I want you to understand that when the thing you have feared most comes upon you, it is not evidence that God has forsaken you. He is smashing your idol to draw you closer to Him.
Look at Job. God told Satan that Job was a righteous man, such that there was none other like him. And indeed, we see that Job was faithful in his service of the Lord, being a Godly example to his children and making sacrifices continually. Yet, there was a motivation in his heart that was not quite right. Part of his service to God was based in fear, so God let him face it (Job 3:25).
See, God knows our hearts, even when we lie to ourselves. God didn't give Satan permission to inflict Job just because He wanted to prove Satan wrong. God wanted to get rid of that fear in Job, and the only way for that to happen was for Job to go through it. Yet remember, God was with Job the entire time and had limited Satan's actions against Job.
I experienced this firsthand almost two years ago when I was hospitalized for a blood infection. I had been battling cancer for several years and my tumor had become infected. My body was in septic shock, but I didn't want to go to the hospital. Why not? I didn't want anyone to see my deformity. The tumor had broken through the skin and was - to put it lightly - an open, oozing, awful mess. I didn't want to feel like a science experiment as people gawked at me and asked more or less, "Where is this God in whom you claimed to have faith? If your God has given you direction about what to do to treat this, then why would He do this to you? Are you sure you really heard God at all?" That was another fear I had. Maybe I hadn't heard from God at all and He was just going to let me die. No, it was better that I not be around these doctors, who had only served in the past to try and chip away at my faith. Please God, don't let me have to go to the hospital.
So you know what happened; God made me face these fears. I was hospitalized and - just as I feared - a constant stream of doctors, technicians, specialists, nurses, interns and the like all came asking to see the tumor. It was so difficult being laid bare before these people as they took turns examining me. They would all look at me with the same incredulous expression and question again why I was not seeking chemo or radiation. Time and time again, I explained that the Lord told me not to and they simply looked at me as if I had lost my mind. I felt foolish initially, telling them about my faith in the Lord while sitting there with my body riddled with disease which seemed out of control. Yet, at the end of it all, do you know what happened? I survived. I walked out of that hospital; maybe a little humbled, but I walked out nonetheless. Going through that experience hadn't killed me, as I had imagined that it would.
That is the thing with fear. It often seems so much bigger in our minds than it is in reality. God wants us to trust Him completely, through any circumstance. We can only do that when we face our fears; not try to use God to shield us from them.
Likewise, Job facing what he feared most didn't kill him either. Yes, there was pain. There was loss. There was sorrow. There was suffering. But God brought him through it all...and He will do the same for you.
God is a jealous God and He wants us to love Him completely and serve Him from a pure heart. In order for this to happen, we may need to face those things which scare us the most. He needs us to know that He is with us, even in the fiery trials. Praise God that He cares enough for us not to leave us in fear, but to take us through these things so that we can be made stronger in Him. Leaving us with those fears would be to leave us crippled.
When there is nothing we fear more than God, then we can have peace in any situation. When there is nothing we fear more than God, then we can stand boldly and proclaim His word, no matter the response. When there is nothing we fear more than God, then we can know that we are walking in His perfect love.
The Road to Hell