One day I was drawn to the passage in Colossians where Paul expresses the desire of his heart for the people of Colosse and Laodicea. Verses 2 and 3 says that his desire was “that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
I have written in my Bible beside that third verse, Isaiah 11:1, so I turned to it.
There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. 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 of the fear of the Lord.
There’s a lot in both this Isaiah verse and in the Colossians passage. But for some reason, I connected the riches of God and wisdom being made available to us. So I asked the Lord about it and He gave me the following word. Here is a portion of that word:
Wisdom and knowledge are a part of who I am. I dispense wisdom on those who show themselves able and worthy to handle it. Knowledge is gained by impartation (i.e. a word of knowledge) and by study. Anyone can obtain knowledge simply by applying themselves. An aspect of knowledge is asking what to do with it. But there are several sources willing to answer that question. If a person asks Me, I will give them true wisdom. Or if they ask a proven wise man or woman they will get a good answer and often be directed to Me in the process. But if they ask an evil person, demon or angel, they do not get wisdom but do get what they deserve. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. (Psalm 111:10)That fear will be gained by asking and seeking or by trauma.
Well, since I would rather get the fear of the Lord by asking and seeking than through some sort of trauma, the next day I began to ask Him just exactly how do we get the kind of fear of Him that He requires. He led me to Psalm 34:11-15.
Verse 11 – Come, ye children, listen to me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
Verse 12 – Who is the man who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good?
Verse 13 – Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit.
Verse 14 – Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
Verse 15 – The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry.
So OK, I now had a list of things to do to get the fear of the Lord. This list isn’t as easy to follow as it looks at first glance.
- Watch my mouth that it doesn’t say bad, evil stuff. That’s a challenge for anybody ‘cuz according to God’s viewpoint, complaining and murmuring is just as evil as saying bad stuff about people.
- Don’t be deceitful so that deceitful words won’t escape from my lips. That one isn’t as hard for me because I’ve never been a deceitful person. Being a black and white person, I’ve always been very particular about honesty. And I have vary rarely purposely tried to manipulate people. But for people who have dishonesty, deceit and manipulation in their background, it is very difficult to break away from such habits because over time they can manipulate or stretch the truth without even realizing it or caring.
- Stay away from evil – This is very difficult to do in 21st century America. Evil is spewed from every corner – from movies, TV, talk radio, internet and personal conversations. It’s become the norm for people to puff themselves up trying to appear intellectual by speaking words of cynicism, bad-mouthing and putting down others. Staying away from evil also made me remember 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Evil companions corrupt good morals.” If you hung out with evil people in the past, it can be hard to break off the relationships because even if you try, they sometimes keep after you. This is a major problem for people fresh out of prisons that need to get away from their former neighborhood. Plus, if they don’t deal with what in themselves caused them to be drawn to such evil friends in the first place, they can move all the way across the country and still end up with the same kinds of companions. Romans 13:12 says, The night is far spent, the day is at hand; therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
How can a person do this? Proverbs 16:6 says, In mercy and truth atonement is provided for iniquity; and by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil. In other words, if you want the fear of the Lord, stay away from evil and you’ll get enough of the fear of the Lord to be able to follow through with your decision to stay away. It’s a matter of the heart. How badly do you want the riches of God? It’s your decision. You can’t walk back into a place or situation that enabled you to fall the first, second or third time so it’s not going to work a fourth time either.
- Do good. Scripture tells us that God has good works for us to do. Ephesians_2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
So to follow this instruction, we must develop our relationship with Him and learn how to hear His voice so He can tell us in one of the many ways He has of speaking and guiding us, what He wants us to do.
Hebrews_10:24 and let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.
James_3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.
1 Peter_2:12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works which they observe, glorify God in a day of visitation.
2 Chronicles_19:7 Now therefore, let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take care and do it.
2 Chronicles_19:9 And he commanded them, saying, Thus you shall act in the fear of the LORD, faithfully, and with a loyal heart.
- Seek peace and even pursue it. This one isn’t as easy to do as it looks at first glance either. Sometimes I don’t want to seek peace much less pursue it. I just want to get away from the non-peaceful situations and people. But wait! Maybe it’s not talking about that. Maybe it’s talking about seeking peace in my heart, of seeking the Prince of Peace. Sometimes we need to quit looking for a battle. I used to know a lady who would cause a problem by stirring up people so she could come to the rescue and be the heroine. Others unconsciously look for a battle by always seeing the glass half empty. Perhaps we all need to have a bit of Pollyanna in us.
Obviously, we have our work cut out for us if we truly want to have the fear of the Lord which brings the riches of God into our lives. But now, what about the 15th verse of Colossians?
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry.
Psalm 33:18-19 says, Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.
We want this, especially with the economy the way it is, with genetically altered food being sold in the stores and many other reasons for crop failures. So now we see from this verse that the fear of the Lord includes the need to have hope in His mercy and when we have hope, His eye is on us.
Psalm 32:8 gives us this promise: I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.
Some translations don’t use the word “eye” but I believe the word “eye” is the best translation because the Hebrew word is a primitive word that they think probably means an eye, literally or figuratively. All other possible definitions are analogies and being a literal person, I take it literally.
This is one of the ways God talks to us. As we grow in maturity and intimacy with Him, we can tell where He’s looking and how he’s looking just like the visual signals a husband and wife give each other in a group setting. Another example is how a child is often guided by “the look” of a parent.
Back to the fear of the Lord, are there any other things we need to do to obtain a true fear of the Lord? Yes.
6. Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride and arrogance, and the evil way, and the perverse mouth I hate.
Besides being yet another scripture that tells us to clean up our mouth, this one basically tells us to learn to hate what God hates and to deal with our pride and arrogance. Arrogance is pride gone amuck. We have a lot of arrogance in our world today which is the antithesis of humility. My personal observation is that the result of arrogance is strife, division, civil, economic and inter-relational unrest. Even war. Arrogance is a mind-blinding spirit that blinds the mind from reality, from truth and from other people. Arrogant people don’t care about others. They may do great service for and to people, but it’s for a personal, selfish reason. No wonder God hates arrogance.
While preparing this lesson someone told me that to them, the fear of the Lord is obtained by simple obedience. Just do what He says. Obviously, obedience to the six things given in scripture as specific requirements is necessary, but just because a person is obedient does not necessarily mean that they have the fear of the Lord. The very first requirement is to watch our mouth. Yet James 3:3-12 talks about how the tongue “is a fire, a world of iniquity, “an unruly evil full of deadly poison,” and that “no man can tame the tongue.
Verse 2 says, if anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man able also to bridle the whole body. Is there anybody who fits this description? James goes on to ask in verse 13, Who is wise and understanding among you? Fortunately, he answered his own question by explaining in the rest of the verse and in verse 14. Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in themeekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.
So we see here that simple obedience is not enough. Obedience to not only the six specific requirements given to obtain a godly, biblical fear of the Lord as well as everything else God tells us is not enough. That obedience must come from our hearts, from the core of our being. We must move past obedience to submission to love. We gotta want to obey simply because we love Him. No other reason.
There is nothing about true Christianity, nothing that we can do, nothing that we can say or be or receive that is separate from a love relationship with the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ. Obedience without intimacy is just another religion. Powerless and void of meaning. But when a heart-love is at the core of any form of obedience, God perks up with joy and responds.
Some of the results of having this kind of love-inspired fear of the Lord are. . . .
- Knowledge – Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.
- Knowledge of God – Proverbs 2:5 Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
- Wisdom – Psalm 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom
- The ability to persuade men about God – 2 Corinthians 5:11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men.
- Increase in the church numerically – Acts 9:31 Then the churches throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.
- A longer life – Proverbs 10:27 The fear of the LORD prolongs days
- Confidence and refuge – Proverbs 14:26 In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence: and His children will have a place of refuge.
- Life – Proverbs 14:27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to turn away from the snares of death.
- Life, satisfaction and avoidance from evil – Proverbs 19:23 The fear of the LORD leads to life: and he who has it will abide in satisfaction; he will not be visited with evil.
- Riches, honor and life – Proverbs 22:4 By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches and honor and life.
Psalm 19:9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.