We have been reading through Acts as a family and recently read the account of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. Ananias and Sapphira sold a field and brought part of the proceeds to the apostles but deceitfully said that they brought all of the proceeds. They lied to make themselves look generous. God put them to death immediately because they desired the praise of men more than they feared the Lord.
We began talking to the children more about what it means to fear the Lord and realized that we all needed to spend more time learning what it really means to fear God.
It’s not something that we think about very often. We like to comfort ourselves with thoughts of God’s love and forgiveness, but we forget that we are worshiping a perfectly holy God that also deserves our fear.
Consider the following Biblical accounts of people who saw the glory of God…
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said, “Woe is me! For I am lost; I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isa 6:1-5)
“And in the midst of the lampstands was one like the son of man…When I saw him I fell at his feet as though dead.” (Rev. 1:12 & 17)
“God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.” (Ex. 3: 4-6)
“On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick clod on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain.” (Ex. 19: 16-17)
Many times I hear “fear of the Lord” translated as “respect,” but these verses suggest otherwise. The people were overwhelmed with God’s presence. Francis Chan (in his Bible study series called BASIC: Fear God) says, “The reality is, whoever you are, the moment you see God, you are going to fear him.”
Certainly those who have not trusted Jesus as their savior will be trembling in fear of God’s righteous wrath. But those who have trusted Jesus have a different type of fear. We fear him as one who we once made our enemy and who is still perfectly holy, and we are overwhelmed with gratefulness for his grace. Piper puts it well in this sermon:
“Fear and trembling are not because God is our enemy but because he saved us from his wrath through Christ, and now we stand on the brink of the Grand Canyon of his holiness and justice and grace and wrath with unspeakable wonder, knees wobbling and hands trembling, but overcome with worship at the depth of his majesty, not with worry that we might fall in.”
Proverbs 1:7 tells us that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” We do not want foolish children that are easily swayed by the sin of the world. We want to raise children who are wise in the things of the Lord, so we must teach them to fear the Lord in all things— to be overcome with worship and gratefulness for his majesty and grace.
While it sounds contradictory, fearing God and loving him are actually complementary. We cannot fully appreciate the love of God until we realize the magnitude of our sin against his perfect holiness. We must fear God in order to love him.
We are only just scratching the surface of this topic in our home, but we know that it is vital for our children to understand if they are going to fear the Lord, walk in all his ways, love the Lord and serve him with their whole heart and soul (Deut. 10:12). We are praying that God teaches all of us to fear him and love him more everyday.
“The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.” (Prov. 14:27)
“Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.” (Ps. 33:8)