The Evidence Of Faith’s Substance The Proverbs Ladder of Character: Fearing God
April 13, 2013
By Ed Croteau
Romans 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
I talk with many people throughout the week about the God of the Bible. It’s fascinating to me that most people I meet who are convinced He doesn’t exist will attack His character (such as “God is a cruel Judge who wants to torture me forever if I won’t obey Him”). But if these people believe He doesn’t exist, then they’ve never met Him. So how can they assert things about His character if they don’t know? Wouldn’t you be upset if someone was telling people something about you as a person, that maybe they heard second-hand from someone else, but they never bothered to come to you first to ask you?
How could someone get to know Him, so they could get answers directly from the Source? Over the last 7 weeks, we focused on God’s purpose in a person’s life: to grow him or her into a close relationship with Him by transforming their character day by day to be more like His Son, Jesus Christ. Now we begin looking at the specific character traits in a Christian’s life that are “step-by-step” progress toward knowing Him intimately. This is what we mean by the ‘Proverbs Ladder’ – it’s a steady climb, one rung at a time, in my relationship with Him. And it all starts right here, in Proverbs 1:7.
If you don’t fear God, you can’t even begin to know who He is. Never mind being kind, and forgiving, or loving. This is step 1, the square everyone must start on in the ‘game of life’. If you mock Him with your supposed questions, if you think He’s a man-made invention… in short, if you have no fear of Him, then you cannot possibly know Him at all. But what does it means to “fear God”? The Bible has two meanings for this.
The first definition doesn’t mean cowardice or timidity, but being frightened of His awesome power and righteous retribution. This what Jesus meant in Luke 12:5: “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!”
The second definition is for the Christian - it means reverence: having a sincere dread of displeasing Him, such that it influences your character by inspiring a carefulness in how you treat others. Jesus taught us this in John 8:29. While on earth He had complete confidence in everything He did because His motive was simple: to please His Father: “And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” This is the ‘fear of God’ that we also see many in the Old Testament, like in Proverbs 14:26 (“In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of Refuge”) and Isaiah 33:6 (“Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, and the strength of salvation; the fear of the Lord is His treasure”).
If you desire is to grow more intimate in your relationship with Jesus Christ, start here and ask yourself a simple question: “Am I in awe of Him so that it influences my daily life? Do I fear the Lord?” If your answer is yes, we’re ready next week, for the next rung in the Proverbs Ladder of Character: humility.
Ed Croteau is a resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called “Faith: Substance and Evidence.” He can be reached with your questions through the Lee’s Summit Tribune at Editor@lstribune.net.