Fear God and Give Glory to Him
The fear of God is one of the more baffling concepts in Scripture. How can we love and worship someone that we are afraid of?
Author Christine Louise Hohlbaum acknowledges that “Fear is a tricky human emotion. It can paralyze you. It can keep you from your dreams. It can keep you small. It can also keep you safe. Fear can be your friend in just the right doses, but too much of it can kill you.”
She explains how we often build up problems in our minds by imagining that things are worse than they actually are. She recounts an incident where a friend needed to confront an abusive boss. As the friend imagined the conversation, her anxiety nearly petrified her. “Her body shook, her knees grew weak,” Hohlbaum reports, “but her resolve remained unshaken.” Her fear of things remaining the same overcame her fear of confronting her abuser. The conversation went better than she imagined, and by facing her fears she improved her situation.
Hohlman concludes with this helpful advice: “Love your fear. It only grows when you let it consume you and that usually happens when we forget how helpful our fear is trying to be. Fear can be a very good thing indeed. It has its place—in moderation!”
Can fear of God be a good, helpful fear? We typically view fear as a negative emotion that we need to eradicate. Indeed, 1 John 4:18 promises us that perfect love eliminates that negative feeling. If God is love (1 John 4:8), then it stands to reason that our relationship with God will erase any feelings of fear. And yet, Revelation 14:7 instructs us to both fear God and worship God.
We often employ some linguistic gymnastics to reconcile the love of God with the fear of God. It’s common to hear that “fear God” doesn’t mean to be afraid of God; rather it really means to respect, honor, or revere God. Maybe it’s time to acknowledge that fear—even as it’s applied to our relationship with God—really means fear. It’s a real emotion for many of us. Jesus even tells us that we should be afraid of God in Matthew 10:28: Don’t be afraid of those who can only physically kill you in this life; be afraid of the God who can kill you both now and for eternity.
That fear, however, doesn’t need to debilitate us. If our fear of things remaining the same in our lives overcomes our reticence toward God, it can lead us to take steps to change our course. When we understand how the fear of an uncertain future leads us to turn away from a destructive path and begin to walk toward our assurance of heaven, we can truly give God the glory.
Connecting: Has fear ever helped you? If so, how?
Sharing: How does God’s perfect love eliminate our fears?
- When we have God on our side, we won’t be afraid of anything
- We may still experience the emotion of fear at times, but we can reason that God is greater than any of our problems so that we can face those fearful situations
- We will only experience God’s peace in our lives to the extent that we let God lead us
- God’s promise of salvation in Jesus overcomes our fear of eternal death, which is the worst fear we can imagine
- When we totally focus on God’s love, negative emotions can’t take hold
Applying: Those who grew up in abusive homes can struggle terribly in their relationships with authority figures. That can be especially true for those with abusive fathers who are trying to cope with the concept of God as a Father. How can we best help those souls reconcile the idea of both fearing and worshiping God?
Valuing: Do you fear God? If not, should you? If you do, is it a healthy fear, or is it an irrational, debilitating fear? Prayerfully reflect on the promise that God’s perfect love casts out all fear, and explore how you can apply that assurance to your worship of God.
~ Chuck Burkeen