The Encouragement Found in “Fear the LORD”
Guest Blog by Crystal Ratcliff
“Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth…” Joshua 24:14a
When I came across this verse in my study of Joshua, I took note of the phrase, “fear the LORD.” You see, my recent Bible reading schedule had allowed me to spend a considerable amount of time in the Old Testament, and I had noticed something. The Old Testament saints—and even sinners—had a reverence for God, His Name, His Word, and His House that seems to be lost in our present time.
I had an understanding that we should have a healthy fear, or reverential awe, for the LORD, but I wanted to dig a little deeper. The notes I found in my Bible’s concordance regarding fear were convicting and encouraging all at the same time.
Fear signifies awe regarding what is unknown, potentially dangerous, or terror inspired by one’s enemies. Often it means “reverence” for God. The proper respect of God compels us to abandon our evil ways, teaches us wisdom, and leads to confidence, for if we submit to God, we do not have to fear any other power (Thomas Nelson Concordance).
Reverence is regard with fear, mingled with respect and affection, which produces a desire to serve and unwillingness to offend Him (Websters 1828).
Let’s get that convicting part out of the way first, shall we?
I immediately noticed the obvious connection between fearing the LORD and serving Him. You’ll notice Joshua 24:14 says, “…fear the LORD, and serve him…” It is our fear, or reverence, of the LORD that compels us to serve. When we have a healthy fear of the LORD, we know and understand Who God is and the power that He has over our lives. We surrender to His plan and purpose for our lives. We are willing to obey and worship as He commands.
It sounds simple but serving the Lord “…in sincerity and in truth,” actually requires continual self-examination. Am I truly surrendered to the Lord? Do I question His plans for my life? Am I willing to obey as He commands? Or do I want to obey on my terms? These questions could go on for quite some time, and truthfully, our answers might vary from day to day! We must be willing to do a heart check on a regular basis to ensure that we have a proper reverence for the Lord which prompts us to serve Him in sincerity and in truth.
Now let’s move on to that encouragement I mentioned.
Notice the last part of the fear definition, “…leads to confidence, for if we submit to God, we do not have to fear any other power.” As I considered this, I found myself thanking and praising the Lord for the comfort we have in fearing Him. When we know and understand Who God is and the power He has over our lives, we do not need to fear anything else!
Proverbs 14:26 says, “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.”
A proper fear of the LORD gives us confidence that God has everything under His control and is working His perfect plan in our lives. We can trust that no matter what happens around us, He is with us. He will be our refuge—even in uncertain and frightening times. We have nothing to fear because there is nothing that we will face alone.
Are you feeling fearful today? Perhaps it’s time for a heart check. How’s your fear of the LORD?
Guest Blog by Crystal Ratcliff