Have you ever been afraid of something? I mean really afraid? When I was a kid, I spent a night at my Grandma Lenehan’s house. My grandfather had passed away a few years before, so it was just her. There was a kitchen, dining and living rooms and two bedrooms on the first floor, with a bathroom in the middle.
The night I visited Grandma, I had to sleep in the living room. I don’t remember why, but that’s where Grandma told me to sleep. After I laid down, I closed my eyes and tried to sleep. It was dark enough, but I kept hearing strange noises. Creaking, grunting, bumping, more creaking. The typical in-the-dark-in-a-strange-house noises. I was definitely scared. I learned later that most of the noise was Grandma walking back and forth between the two bedrooms, doing whatever it was that Grandmas do after the grandkids go to bed when they visit.
Recalling that night got me thinking. What am I afraid of today? Our pastor pointed out one Sunday that our fears can hijack our future. They can determine what we do and don’t do. There are good fears. It’s good to be afraid that you’ll burn your hand if you touch a hot stove (do Moms still teach that to their kids?). It’s healthy to have some fear of strong storms so that you can do what you need to prepare for them and protect you and your family. There are, of course, tons of bad fears.
The BEST fear is the fear of the Lord.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise.” (Psalm 111:10, NIV)
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Prov. 7:1, NIV)
Adam experienced the first human fear when he and Eve followed the devil instead of God’s commands.
“He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” (Gen. 3:10, NIV)
Not only are we to fear God in terms of respecting Him and His authority as the Almighty, but we are indeed to be in fear of Him. God doesn’t mince words about himself, “I am the Lord and there is no other; apart from me there is no God”(Isaiah 45:5, NIV). There is some great news, though, associated with the fear of the Lord. Our pastor pointed out that the fact that God is just, gets angry and carries out wrath does not negate His love, grace, mercy and forgiveness. He is both just AND loving. He generously hands out both wrath and grace and love. He demanded our lives in payment for our sins, but He paid the price for that sin through the death of Jesus on the cross.
As Paul wrote in Romans and Bethel Music wrote in their song “No Longer Slaves”, it’s because of God’s justice and grace that we are no longer slaves to fear…but children of God:
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Rom. 8:14-17, NIV).
That’s GREAT news!
You can listen to the song, “No Longer Slaves”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8TkUMJtK5k