Worldly terms do not always express the same meaning when used biblically. Fear is one such term.~Lisa Blair
When we were young, we were taught to fear the things that could harm us. Children’s stories were often set around monsters in the night, alien attacks, and sea creatures. Our parents and teachers taught us strangers were to be feared to ensure we were not kidnapped or harmed. Our nation’s leaders spoke of international enemies, I grew up in the Cold War when our leader’s told us our enemies were hell-bent on destroying our nation, and so we feared them too. Nationalists around the world are identifying people to fear, fear the Blacks, the Jews, fear Muslims, Mexicans, South Americans, and anyone that is not White. Our understanding and the context of the word fear created feelings triggered by the perception of danger, real or imagined (Mayo Clinic). Psychology Today reports that ‘fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger, it has strong roots in human evolution. If people didn’t feel fear, they couldn’t protect themselves from legitimate threats.’ In an article entitled, Very Well Mind, fear is identified as a primal human emotion, that has physiological and emotional responses. So, as a child, I connotated fear with something unpleasant and unwelcome, causing emotional pain, something to run from, not to.
The word ’fear’ can be a misleading word. I know that this word created a sense of discomfort for me. I recall thinking why should I be afraid of a loving God? It did not make sense. Our God is a good, a loving and protective God. We can call upon in good times and bad. He calms us in times of trepidation. He is our Father. As I grew older and matured as a Christian, and studied biblical dictionaries and read commentaries, I discovered that the word was not misleading but was a contextual term. It’s definition differed depending upon whether we seek clarity through the worlds dictionaries or biblical dictionaries.
I, like many of you, attended Sunday School, and when the teachers’ shared, we should fear the Lord, I misunderstood and took the word to mean the type of fear we learned about every day, worldly fear which equated to danger. As children would say, scary fear. I’ve since learned that worldly fear was designed to separate us from God. How can we love a God that we were told to fear and mistrust? The truth is, we were born into a spiritual war. Our parents thought that by warning us and intensifying our fear, they were keeping us safe as we grew up in a world of uncertainty. Satan created this dynamic to separate us from God. I fell prey on many levels early in life not seeing God as a loving Father and disavowing Him because He was intent upon destroying us (as seen in the Old Testament stories), and then as a parent failing to teach my children the distinction between worldly fear and Godly fear.
Now that we know what worldly fear means, let’s look at Godly fear. The fear of the Lord is defined as respect, awe, and submission. Godly fear becomes reverential in nature. I believe that this type of fear does not live in our consciousness until we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior. It is not until we break through the veil that separates the natural world from the spiritual world that we can understand the word, fear, has two meanings. Our awareness manifests when we become a member of God’s family and begin to realize the magnitude of His being. As we become aware, our hearts and soul begin to reap wisdom. Wisdom is the foundational base on which we build our relationship with the Lord. There is one caveat, if you do not accept Christ as your Lord and Savior, then there is no salvation, no relationship, and hence worldly fear will cause you to remain afraid of the Lord. You will see him as a tyrant who, as in the Old Testament, smites those who disobey Him. I believe Solomon wrote in Proverbs, 4:7 NKJV,
Gill (BibleHub.com) explains ‘getting wisdom’ as gaining a greater degree of knowledge of Christ.
Eugene H. Merrill (BibleStudyTools.com) explained it like this: Fear of God also lies at the heart of successful living in the world. Wisdom literature makes it clear that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, a fear equated with the “knowledge of the Holy One” ( Prov 9: 10; 1: 7; Psalm 111:10 ). To fear God is to know him and to know him is to fear him. Such healthy fear enables one to praise God ( Psalm 22: 23; Rev 14:7 ); to enjoy benefits and blessings at his hand ( Psalm 34:9 ; Psalms 103:11 Psalms 103:13 Psalms 103:17 ); to rest in peace and security ( Psalm 112:7-8 ); and to experience length of days ( Prov 10:27 ; 19:23 ). But fear of God also produces fear of wrath and judgment in those who do not know him or who refuse to serve him. There are, thus, two sides of the fear of the Lord — that which produces awe, reverence, and obedience, and that which causes one to cower in dread and terror in anticipation of his displeasure.
As adults, it is our responsibility to teach those around us the context of words as defined in Biblical dictionaries. Imagine how different your life may have been had you been told the difference between the two languages, and how to establish your life on the foundational base of wisdom. This is not to say that we should have regrets, we live and we learn. However, this knowledge should speak to our hearts explaining how we can spread the Good News.
The word ’fear’ Can be a misleading word. I know that this word created a sense of discomfort for me. I recall thinking why should I be afraid of a loving God? It did not make sense. The following romped through my head: our God is a good God, a loving God. We can call upon in good times and bad. He calms us in times of trepidation. He is our Father. As I grew older and matured as a Christian, studied biblical dictionaries and read commentaries, I discovered that the word was not misleading but was a contextual term. Its definition differed depending upon whether we seek clarity through the worlds dictionaries or biblical dictionaries.
Biblical dictionaries define fear as respect, awe and submission. Fear precedes our awareness of the magnitude of His being. And, once aware, it brings reverence, knowledge, and wisdom.
Wisdom is the foundational base on which we build our relationship with the Lord.
Images – Google Images
The term Fear is ContextualizedReferences – Biblehub.com; Biblestudytools.com; Vine’s Expository Dictionary