WISDOM FOR OUR TIMES
This is a newsletter whose sole purpose is to promote wisdom within our culture.
This newsletter is written by Geoff Woods, Certified Life Coach and Founder of The Institute of Wisdom and Courage.
Three ways to communicate with me:
The Fear of the Lord
Wisdom teaches humans the difference between right and wrong as well as the difference between good and evil. It teaches humans how to engage in good conduct, and do what is right, just, and fair. This is no easy task since there is a learning process in acquiring wisdom. So, where does one go to find wisdom that leads to acts of justice and good conduct? Where does one start this process?
The author of Proverbs, which is a book of the Old Testament and is considered wisdom literature, states wisdom must come from a source much greater than ourselves, from a being that is more knowledgeable and more wise than humans. This being has to be the creator of wisdom and knowledge, and the writer asserts this being is God. It is we humans that must learn wisdom from its author, for it is God who created us and knows us all too well, and knows all humans need wisdom to do what is right, just and fair. It is God that teaches us what is right, just, and fair, and not ourselves. I know it is a popular idea today within our culture to believe wisdom comes from within, however, there is no human being that is the author of all that is wise. If we are the only source of wisdom then our view of what is right, just, and fair will be skewed towards selfishness and narcissism. Wisdom is given to us by God.
So, how does one start this process of receiving wisdom from God? The author of Proverbs tells us that the beginning of wisdom comes from the fear of the Lord. It isnÕt sufficient to know and love God to gain wisdom. It is the living with the fear of the Lord that is the foundation of possessing good conduct, justice, and fairness. To be honest, I was surprised by this for two reasons. The first is that I thought wisdom comes from studying and searching, which is true, but I realized it isnÕt enough. The second is realizing I donÕt have the fear of the Lord, so how can I expect to live with wisdom from God if I donÕt have what is necessary? I am now on a quest to develop the fear of the Lord in my life, and the first thing I have to do is understand what fear means within this context.
Holy fear means a piety or reverence for God.
So, what exactly is the fear of the Lord? To figure this out, I turned directly to the dictionary to find different definitions of fear. WebsterÕs New World Dictionary defines fear as a feeling of anxiety and agitation caused by the presence or nearness of danger or evil. It is also defined as an anxiousness caused by the thought of getting into trouble. These were not the only definitions of fear in this dictionary. WebsterÕs also describes fear as respectful dread as well as to feel reverence or awe. So, which of these definitions fits the context of the fear of the Lord? I was stuck and undecided, so I looked to other sources using the internet that describe fear, and I found an article entitled The Fear Of The Lord by Rosemarie Scott. In this article, I found another type of fear known as filial fear, which is the fear of offending someone whom one loves. In my search, I also found the definition of holy fear, which means a piety or reverence for God. This is the second definition of fear that related fear to reverence and awe. The idea that fear is connected to reverence or awe sounded very different to me since I usually thought of fear as a feeling of anxiety created from the thought of getting into trouble. I realize this is what a child thinks and believes about fear. After searching and thinking about the idea of fear within the context of the fear of Lord, I moved towards thinking that this fear of the Lord has to do with reverence.
The fear of the Lord is a convergence of awe, reverence, adoration, honor, worship, confidence, thankfulness, and love.
So, what exactly is reverence? Again, I turned to the dictionary and found it means the feeling or attitude of deep respect, love, and awe, as for something sacred. It implies regarding with great respect, affection, honor or deference. What was interesting to me was I also found a description of the fear of the Lord that sounded similar to this definition of reverence, and it states the fear of the Lord is a convergence of awe, reverence, adoration, honor, worship, confidence, thankfulness, and love. After much thought, I came up with my own definition of the fear of the Lord, which is a combination of several definitions I found. The fear of the Lord is a deep reverence and respect for God and GodÕs creation that leads me to doing what is right and just. This also includes a respectful dread and appropriate fear of God when I either do something wrong or focus on doing something wrong. This is an important component since it will motivate me to turn from what is bad and destructive to what is good, just, and right. Inherent in my definition and understanding of the fear of the Lord is the idea that God knows better than I do and that it is His principles that will lead me to live with wisdom. I now fully realize why the author of Proverbs states the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom!
I mentioned that I do not have the fear of the Lord in my life. How, then, do I get it? I think it starts with a prayer. A prayer will help me to focus on what I want to develop in life, which is the fear of the Lord. Below is the prayer I wrote to help and guide me to fear the Lord.
As I quiet my mind, my first realization is I know you are God. You are the supreme in your authority and the author of justice, righteousness, wisdom, goodness, anger and love. I am in awe of You as I gain knowledge and wisdom about You. It is then I know my place before You. You are my creator and I am your creature. I thank you for your created order, and I ask You to help me to move from ignorance to wisdom in understanding and applying your created order in my life. Teach me to love what is good and hate what is evil just as You do. Give me the strength to refrain from speaking what is deceitful and not true. Teach me how to appropriately fear your judgment so I might move in the direction of your guidance. What I am asking of You, God, is to show me how to fear You so I might find favor in your sight.
Thank you very much for taking your time to read my newsletter. There are questions you may answer on my blog concerning this important topic.
Please feel free to write any other comments on my blog you have about the topic of the fear of the Lord.
The next newsletter will deal with the three components of the fear of the Lord: reverence and awe of God, hatred of evil, and obedience to God.
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