Have you ever been reading the Bible and come across the phrase Fear God? If not and you want an example, why not look at Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.
In English, we sometimes have a hard time understanding exactly what is meant by the phrase. If we “fear” something, we are afraid of them, right? Well, that is one definition (and the most common use today); however, with about 500,000 words in English, we can’t remember every definition of every word, so we get used to the most common (look at the words in this post…none of them are the “big” or “fancy” words like plethora). If you look up fear in the dictionary you’ll find several definitions. One of them is “extreme reverence or awe.” That is what the Bible talks about when we read Fear God. But how can you remember that?
Every day, I receive a daily devotional from RayStedman.org. In today’s devotional, he gave a good acrostic to remember what Fear God means. Here it is:
First, F stands for faith in His existence. You cannot come to God unless you know He is there. Hebrews 11:6 says, “Anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” There is where fear begins: faith that God exists. The whole of the created universe is shouting that at us. All the inner responses of our heart are confirming it. The Word of God declares it. History confirms it. There is a world of evidence that God is there.
Then E: experience of His grace. You never can properly fear God until you have learned what kind of a God He is. He is a God of mercy, of grace, of forgiveness. Until you have stood before Him and felt your guilt, acknowledged it, known you were wrong and corrupt, and heard Him say in your inner heart, “Neither do I condemn you . . . Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11), you will never be able to properly fear God. One element of fear is the experience of the wonder of forgiveness, that God forgives and sends you out with a whole new purpose and a new resource available.
That leads to the third element. A: awe at the majesty, the wisdom, and the wonder of God. What a Being He is! What a marvelous mind that can comprehend all the billions of pieces of information in this universe and hold them continually before Him, that can hear every voice and relate to every person who has ever lived! What a marvelous God! Awe at the sense of His majesty, His comprehensiveness, His unfailing wisdom and power, is part of fearing God.
The last letter, R, stands for resolve. Resolve to do what He says, to “keep His commandments,” as the Searcher puts it here. There are only two commandments; Jesus Himself said that. All the law and the writings can be reduced to two simple things: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). That is in response to His love already shown to you; love Him because He first loved you. And second, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” That’s it. As Micah put it, “What does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).