Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment. Wisdom will multiply your days and add years to your life. If you become wise, you will be the one to benefit.If you scorn wisdom, you will be the one to suffer. - Proverbs 9: 10-12 (NLT)
Scorning wisdom causes suffering. Since wisdom is founded upon fearing the Lord it is reasonable to conclude that suffering follows from not having a healthy fear of God. These lessons apply to us personally, not just on the level of the church. How does someone call on the name of Jesus and treat their fellow man with contempt and disdain? No fear of the Lord. How can one go to play church every week when they know deep down they are worshiping the pastor or even the building? When they know they are unified by something other than Christ? When they have seen the blood on the hands of their leaders? No fear of the Lord. How can we lift our hands on Sundays knowing the sin in our lives is not laid bare before God? No fear of the Lord.
While on this subject, it has become in vogue to denounce those who would even discuss the fear of God. People who brazenly claim they do not fear Him. People who use grace as a shield from things it was not designed to protect us from. How can we not fear the God who spoke the entire universe into existence? Beloved it is not to fear who God is but to fear us ever forgetting who He is. That is the central problem within the church today. There is simply no operational and foundational fear of God anymore. There are some Bible verses that do more than give me pause. They make me revaluate who I am and what I am doing. I do not know how someone can read that not everyone saying "Lord Lord" will enter the kingdom of God and not want to work their salvation out with the fear and trembling as we are instructed to do. At one point even Jesus incredulously asks why bother calling Him Lord if we will not do as He says? The friend of God generation we are raising up does not understand His Lordship. They do not understand a healthy fear of God.
Secondly from the key verses we see the instruction to faithfully serve Him. Many might gloss over this as a given but who do our lives really serve? The Bible deals quite often with the sin of idolatry but we may not stop long enough to translate this into modern terms. I think we hear idolatry and think of people bowing down to a graven image. The first commandment however is to have no other gods before Him. Who have we set up in our lives before the God Almighty? Is our career before God? Do we bow down and chase after the gods of this world? Do we chase after money more than God? The rich young ruler was not told to give all his money to the poor because he was rich. It was because his money was placed ahead of God in his life. We cannot pretend to follow God and have anything else before Him.
Yet how often do we do this today? How often does even our own church become an idol in our lives? Or the pastor we follow? Or even our kids? Beloved, God has a call on YOUR life. He has a purpose for you specifically and that is not to live vicariously through anyone else. But we are not only to serve Him but to faithfully serve Him. Faith requires vigilance. The devil is relentless. The world is unforgiving. Our flesh is always seeking gratification. Sometimes we treat salvation as an event that happened in our past instead of a state of being that must be worked out daily:
Then he said to the crowd, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. - Luke 9: 23 (NLT)
We must take up our cross daily beloved. No one said the Christian walk was an easy one. That is a lie being sold in too many pulpits today. Christianity does cost something. It costs us the rest of this life in faithful service to the God who lavished His love and grace upon us.
Thirdly, we see the instruction of appreciation. Think of all the wonderful things He has done for you! Do we really do this enough anymore? Do we merely pay lip service to the thankfulness we should have towards God? One of the obvious results of prosperity doctrine, in all of its unholy forms, is that it develops a consumer mentality within the hearts of those who seek Christ. Salvation is not a business transaction. There is no quid pro quo. There is nothing we could have done to earn it. Yet despite this, people are convinced that God is a cosmic ATM there for their whims to dispense blessings as we see fit. Joel Osteen sells this false god every day but he is far from alone. Joseph Prince sells us half a god who only exists in the from of grace luring us away from the very vigilance our faith requires. Pastors like Mark Batterson sells us on the notion that prayer is petulance. That God is playing chicken with us when it comes to answering our prayers. Stop the insanity please. Just think of all the wonderful things He has already done for us.