DO YOU FEAR GOD?
By Wayne S. Walker
“The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy” (Psalm 147:11). The Psalmist tells us that the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him. One of the reasons that Paul gave for why all people, both Jew and Gentile, are under condemnation by God is, “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18). What does it mean to “fear” God? The word “fear” is commonly used in two slightly different senses.
Sometimes it is used to mean a sense of terror or being frightened. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). This is not the kind of fear in which the Lord takes pleasure. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love (1 John 4:18). This kind of fear leads to cowardice. In fact, in Revelation 21:8, the term which in some versions is translated “fearful” in others is rendered “cowardly.”
However, the word “fear” is often used in the sense of a deep reverence and respect for God that leads to obedience. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). This is the kind of fear in which the Lord takes pleasure. “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28). Indeed, Peter reminds us in Acts 10:35 that only those who fear God and work righteousness are acceptable to Him. Do you fear God?