We live in a day and age where we have this tendency to believe fear is always a bad thing. Anytime there’s fear, we feel like we have to get rid of it. We don’t want any phobias at all, which makes sense. But I want to tell you something mind-blowing today: sometimes fear is a really good thing.
Let me explain to you why.
The Bible teaches something very provocative, and it’s this: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” That’s Proverbs 9:10.
For lots of people, that’s part of why they don’t want to believe in God. They think, “Why would I want to believe in a God I have to be afraid of?”
But when we think that way, we’re misdefining what the Bible is saying based on our experiences. For instance, a lot of us had abusive fathers of whom we truly did live in fear. That breaks the relationship children are supposed to have with their parents! If that’s your story, that breaks my heart, and I’m so sorry that’s the case.
Here’s the thing though.
In every healthy relationship, we should have a healthy fear.
We should fear how the consequences of our actions could hurt somebody we love. For example, because I love my bride Lynn so much, I actually fear breaking her heart. She’s my life companion. She’s God’s daughter. And I get to have a relationship with her, so why would I ever want to hurt her? I would never want to break her heart, so that determines some of the choices I make in life! I don’t do things I know will hurt her or betray her trust. That healthy fear is an important guardrail that ensures I’m nurturing and cultivating the relationship I get to have with my bride.
When you fear breaking someone’s heart, that’s a powerful and good thing. That’s why the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
No matter how much education you have, if you don’t realize that in the Lord you live and move and have your being, and you don’t realize there are things you can do that could break God’s heart, you’ll never do what you should do. You’ll only do what you want to do because you’ll have no concern of breaking God’s heart and driving a wedge in your relationship with him. (That’s why Jesus took the cross)!
When the fear of the Lord is the driving principle of your life, you stop making decisions based on what you want to do, and you start choosing the things that you know delight God’s heart. That’s wisdom!
When we’re motivated by a desire to do the things that please the object of our affection, fear is an important, powerful and healthy part of life that drives us to do the best things.
So as we move into this week, let’s take time to ask God how to walk in a healthy fear of him, so we can live in this world with wisdom.