In the Scriptures, the fear of God is used in a positive manner. There are a plethora of examples wherein fearing God is beneficial. Here is a smattering: “The fear of the Lord is clean” (Psalms 19:9). It is wholesome and for our good! “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments” (Psalms 111:10). Fear of the Lord can bring about obedience. Consider Hebrews 11:7: Noah, because of his faith, “moved with godly fear, [and] prepared an ark for the saving of his household.” God has mercy on those who fear Him (Luke 1:50). “The fear of the LORD leads to life, and he who has it will be satisfied” (Proverbs 19:23).
That is God’s recipe for replacing worried thoughts with good thoughts. The thought is a temptation, and God has given us the ability to decide whether we are going to take that thought and form it into worry and fear, or if we are going to reject that thought and think about what is true, what is honest, what is just, what is pure, etc. Whenever you catch that temptation to worry coming to your mind, reject that thought, lock it up, don’t imagine more details of it, don’t scare your body into a fear reaction. Instead, identify something that is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, or well spoken of.
Whatever accomplishments I might have achieved, whatever possessions I might have owned, whatever status I might have attained, even my reputation — those things won’t fit inside my urn. Nor do those things define me in the eyes of God. He is not impressed by the awards hanging on the wood-paneled walls of my paid-off house in this upscale California suburb. Even my new iPhone 12 Max Pro with 128 GB of memory does not raise His eyebrows.
We live in perilous times. Currently, the world, our nation, and our brethren are facing the various challenges that the Covid -19 has brought. I don’t have all the answers, but the Bible gives us some principles on this subject that we can live by and confidently build our lives on. God has not left us without counsel from above. We all at some time in our lives have found ourselves worrying—whether it be over loved ones, family difficulties, financial matters, when vehicles don’t run as we expect them to, when we have to deal with health issues, when we have deadlines that we must meet, and the list can go on and on.
If you are like me, it is a bit tempting to fall into this trap. I like to tell myself things like, “I can eat a good sized bowl of ice cream daily, and it won’t affect my waistline.” And yet, over time, doing so creates a need for new pants. In behavioral economics, this is called Normalcy Bias. What has happened in the past is more likely to happen in the future. So cataclysmic events are of less probability than they otherwise might be. As an example, a robber might begin to think himself invincible, because he’s never been caught before.
The wise preacher, Solomon, reminds us that just because a judgment isn’t executed speedily doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen. Poor behavior is not excused by the lack of consequences. God sees. God knows. And His judgment will come.
I’ve always wondered how the Children of Israel dealt with eating the same things day in and day out as they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. How many men jokingly asked their wives, “What’s for dinner tonight?” How many recipes were exchanged as people tried to create subtle variations in their never changing diet? These things may or may not have happened, but we do know that eventually they tired from the constancy of their diet (Numbers 11). Writers outside of this time period referred to manna in a different light, calling it “the bread of heaven” and “angel’s food” (Psalm 78:24-25).
And what a wonderful blessing it is to realize that our TRUE treasures here in this life are not silver and gold, wealth and status, power and position, but rather loving relationships, with God and with those who have become our family. At the bottom of the human heart is the place where such loving relationships flourish. They are the foundation of joy in this life.
Words like fellowship and communion convey the meaning that they could not be achieved individually but only as part of a group. And, to take this a little further, the implication in each of these is that it could only be satisfied through physical contact and not remote access. One thing that seems to muddy the waters at times is how some define the word church. In the New Testament, it comes from the Greek word ekklesia essentially meaning the assembly or congregation. In this we are not talking about brick and mortar, but the physical assembling of believers.
Should we not seek to have a discerning heart, to understand what is right in God’s eyes? Will not God be pleased with such efforts? Later in his life, Solomon, using his God given wisdom, wrote, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6). God’s word is the source for our discernment.