The fear of the LORD leads to life,
and whoever has it rests satisfied;
he will not be visited by harm.
When we began the building project for FCC a few years ago, I was confronted with a life dominating fear. The fear of failure. I didn't know that this was a life dominating fear until being helped by a counselor and friends. I started to realize that for most of my life I have lived with this life dominating fear. The fear of failure was the reason I was successful in certain areas of life, why I avoided good opportunities that I didn't think I could succeed at, why I lost sleep and experienced anxiety quite often. I also realized that if I didn't get a handle on this fear, I could damage my family, because I would be driven to not fail at pastoring, which would take a toll on my family and health.
The goal is not to try to be fearless, but to replace our destructive fears with the one true and life giving fear: The Fear of the Lord.
When the Bible talks about fearing the Lord, it is getting at awe over who God is and what he has done. We are made to live with a sense of the greatness, power, mystery, goodness, purity and grandeur of God. He is God!
There is also a sense, in which to live by the fear of the Lord, is to be afraid of dishonoring or grieving him. I once had the opportunity to host one of my living heroes. I was able to pick him up at the airport, bring him to dinner and escort him from his hotel to meetings. Because I was in the presence of someone great, I wanted everything to be right. I wanted to do everything in my power to make sure that I honored him. This is what it’s like to fear the Lord. He is the greatest, he is awesome, and we don't want to do anything to dishonor him.
We tend to fear disappointed people who are unforgiving. But not so with God! We fear the Lord, because his forgiveness reveals his great steadfast and faithful love for us. When we taste grace and forgiveness, our fears begin to change. Instead of our worst fear being failure or rejection by someone, we fear dishonoring so great a God, who forgives us at great cost to himself. Because to forgive us, his Son became like one of us. He lived the life we should have lived, and died the death we should have died. Jesus got what we deserve so that we get what Jesus has earned and deserves.