THE FEAR OF THE LORD

Scripture Reading:  Acts 5:11-16

“And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard these things…None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem.  And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.” (Acts 5:11,13-14)

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10).  The early believers had to learn a hard lesson about the fear of the Lord.  God taught them this lesson through the judgment upon and the resulting deaths of Ananias and Sapphira.  God’s hand was heavy upon them because of their dishonesty and deceit.  Their actions could have easily led to distrust and disunity among the young community of believers.

For believers, the fear of the Lord means a deep sense of reverence and respect for the Lord.  We must know God in all His attributes — His love, mercy, justice and holiness.  As Proverbs 9:10b states, “The knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”  Believers must have insight into the nature and character of God.  He is to be loved, but He also is to be feared.  We must never lose sight of His justice, holiness, righteousness, and wrath.  While God is our loving Father, He also is the Judge of the universe.  As a loving Father, He rightly disciplines His children:  “For the Lord disciplines the one He loves and chastises every son whom He receives” (Hebrews 12:6).  The writer to the Hebrews tells us that we are not to regard lightly this discipline (Hebrews 12:5).  Thus, we are to respect God’s authority  over us and we are to revere Him.  This is the fear of the Lord for believers.

For the unbeliever, the fear of the Lord must also mean the fear of His judgment and wrath.  This explains why Luke stated:  “None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem” (v. 13).  The unbelievers heard what happened to Ananias and Sapphira.  Thus they were filled with fear of God’s judgment.  For an unbeliever, the fear of God means the fear of His judgment and wrath.

For Christians, we do not have the same kind of fear as unbelievers should have.  We know that Jesus bore the wrath of God for us so that we will never have to experience it ourselves.  But we are to have a holy reverence for God simply because of who He is — the creator, sustainer, and judge of all mankind.  He is our heavenly Father who loves and disciplines us.

Lord God, I know that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  I have a holy reverence and respect for You.  Thank You that I don’t have to fear Your wrath, for Jesus bore it for me.  I know You are my loving heavenly Father who disciplines me for my good.

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