The benefit of living in fear

One devotional I read is Daily Light on the Daily Path, which is a collection of similarly themed verses broken into a morning and evening reading. It is beneficial in that a) it is the Word of God, which speaks tremendously to you and b) it provides a good wellspring for prayer. You should be able to find it in several versions as a book as well as in an online form.

The reading for this morning was titled “Consider what great things he has done for you,” but I couldn’t help but notice how the idea of fearing God was woven into them as well. Verses like “Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you” (I Samuel 12:24) and “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;” (Psalm 103:11). Mixed with those were verses talking about how God afflicts those he loves and disciplines them such as Deuteronomy 8:5, which says “Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you.”

That isn’t what I want to hear as a sinful person. I don’t want to hear that God disciplines me or tests me to see whether my love is genuine. But I need it because otherwise I will fall in love with myself and not God. When Jesus was tempted in the desert by Satan, the verses he cited were from Deuteronomy where God says he is testing his people (Deuteronomy 8:3).

What is so good about being fearful? When you live in fear you live in a state of awareness. You are aware of your surroundings, what your state is, what you need to do. You are alert. Obviously, we should not live in fear of everything because that is not how God has commanded us to live. But we are also to be aware that there in one final Judge, and that is where we should fear.

Living in fear of God is not an oppressive thing because he loves those who fear him, that is, living in a way that you are alert to what he wants and not what you what. As it says in Proverbs 1:7: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” And with that knowledge comes a joy that is beyond anything this world offers.

Today my prayer is like Nehemiah as is written in Nehemiah 1:11: “O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”

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