A Day In the Life Fearing God
I recently had the opportunity to deeply study several books on the fear of God: John Bunyan’s The Fear of God, Al N. Martin’s : The Forgotten Fear Where Have All the God-Fearers Gone?, and Jeremiah Burroughs’s Gospel Fear. These books bring needful doctrine to the forefront of the mind to weigh through godly and ungodly fears. In my mind I was able to walk away with a clarity of 4 categories of where we can land with our fear of God:
As an unbeliever: Romans 3:18, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
In the terror and dread that leads to salvation: Psalm 7:11-12, “God is a righteous judge, and a God who has indignation every day. If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword; He has bent His bow and made it ready.”
In the awe and reverence of the believer: Psalm 22:23a, “You who fear the Lord, praise Him; All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him.”
As a believer living in ungodly fears: Romans 8:15, “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” (Italics mine)
There are two verses written to believers seeking to walk in the fear of God daily that excite my heart so!
The Fear of God is a gift of grace and a command: Philippians 2:12-13, “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” So, is my growth in fearing God based on me or on God? As my husband likes to say, “Yes!” It is both of us! It is a grace gift of God planted in a believer’s heart; and it is also a command for us to obey.
The Fear of God solves ungodly fear: 2 Timothy 1:7, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control” (ESV). Ungodly fears range from your first fears of wrath and hell, to fears of safety, health or not getting your way. As Oswald Chambers said, “When you fear God, you fear nothing else; and when you don’t fear God, you fear everything else.”
So how do I obey this command to fear God? What does it look like in my life? How do I walk this out in my day-to-day activities that seem far from sacred? To fear God is to recognize His perfection as judge and that to fear Him is to honor His Word.
“You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him” Deut 13:4.
One quote that started the wheels of my mind turning from Albert N. Martin says, “Our Fear of God, our holiness, our progress in sanctification, must be seen in our interpersonal relationships.” The moment to moment of daily life IS sacred, and it is where we show if we fear God, or anything else.
How the Fear of God walks through my day with me:
The Fear of God drives me to my knees in dependence upon Him, knowing my day is empty without Him. I praise, thank, confess and request, leaving all in the hands of His will. (Psalm 86; 1 Thess 5:17; Jas 4:13-17)
The Fear of God causes me to thank him for 98° temperatures and 100% humidity, knowing that the fires of hell are hotter; that I am to rejoice and not complain in all things. The Creator of the universe made this day, this land, and planned this weather for my good and His glory (Jer 5:22-24; Phil 2:24).
As I read the blaring news headlines, the Fear of God keeps me from getting swept away. My heart doesn’t beat fast in anxiety because I know God rules over the governments and leaders. I know this world has to get worse to move towards the return of Christ, and I long for that day (Phil 4:6; Prov 21:1; 1 John 2:17).
The fear of God moves me to the living area to love and care for my family. It gives me nurture with the nursing newborn, patience with the screaming toddler, and a smile for the goofy middle age child. It helps me give the quiet child his space to recharge, and wisdom and wise questions for the opinionated teenager (Prov 31:14-15, 27; Titus 2:4; Eph 6:4).
The Fear of God urges me to call my husband and confess my sin of anger from when I was irritable with him late last night. Just now, my pride is crumbling, and I’m seeing the argument really was my fault. The Fear of God gives me the humility to confess and ask forgiveness and renews my thankfulness for a hardworking man that I don’t deserve (Matt 1 8:21-22; Eph 4:32).
The Fear of God causes me to prepare food, clean laundry, scrub toilets, change diapers, run errands, clean up cat vomit, weed the garden, tidy the garage, make the beds, comb the toddler’s hair, and pick up my teenager’s stinky shoes for the hundredth time in joy and gratitude. The Fear of God causes me to consider all these acts as worship toward God as I seek to “do all things for the glory of God” with joy and thanksgiving, and without a word or thought of complaint. This is what God has given my hands to do with delight (Eccl 9:10; Prov 31: 13; Col 3:23-24).
The Fear of God allows me to listen to a friend in need when she stops by. When she expresses her struggles to find time to study her bible, yet she spends hours doing other things to “unwind,” the fear of God reminds me to ask good questions to find out if she is weak, faint-hearted, or unruly. Fear of Him gives me compassion and boldness to speak truth in love, and to fear Him more than her opinion of me (Eph 4:14-15; Prov 24:11; 29:25; 1 Thess 5:14).
The Fear of God in my heart directs me to take my child aside and discuss his sin with him. The Fear of God reminds me of the long-term consequences to my own heart, and my child’s heart, if I do not discipline him now for his rebellion. That holy fear causes me to trust in God’s work through consequences to soften my child’s soul to his Creator. Fear of God removes my personal offense in the situation, and focuses my child on his relationship with God and my deep love for him in this moment (Eph 6:4; Prov 13:24; 22:15; Heb 12:5-11).
The Fear of God reminds me of the single mom at church who has had an intense week at work and with her preschooler. It inspires me to cook double dinner and to pack up a meal and deliver it to her on my way to Bible Study (Gal 5:13-14; Col 3:12-17; Titus 3:14; Rom 12:15).
The Fear of God catches my heart on its way to envy when I hear my friend at Bible Study talking about what appears to be her perfect house, perfect kids, and perfect husband. The Fear of God speaks truth to my heart that I have exactly what I need for my worship, obedience, and sanctification. Fear of God reminds me wisely that I am not to compare the outside view of someone else’s life, to the inside view of mine (Gal 5:13-26; Exo 20:17; Col 3:12-15).
The Fear of God pushes me outside of my self-love in only fellowshipping with my comfortable friends, or leaving church early and not talking at all. It directs me to ask questions of others, to care about their lives, and to share my struggles with another sister in Christ that we may sharpen one another (Rom 12:9-13; Matt 5:25; Jas 2:1-10; 1 John 4:20-21).
On my way home from Bible study, the Fear of God causes me to give a tract to the woman in the store who is using God’s name in vain. It causes me to stop looking at the shoes long enough to care for her soul and ask her how she knows Jesus Christ so well (Jude 20-23; 2 Cor 5:11).
The Fear of God puts aside self-pity when I come home to a messy …. or even empty house at the end of the night. It reminds me that the mess or the emptiness is His best for me right now. The Fear of God puts on music that draws my heart to sing His praise as I finish my day and prepare wisely for a good start to the next day (Psalm 100; Titus 2:4-5; Prov 15:33; Phil 2:3).
Finally, the Fear of God draws me to His throne as I lay my head on the pillow. My God-given agape, dying-to-self love causes me to seek the throne room again for the burdens of my friends, the praises of the day, and dependence on Him once more. It causes me to go to sleep without fear of harm during the night, because I know the angel of the lord encamps around me and nothing will happen to me that God does not sovereignly decree for His glory and my good (Rom 8:28; Psa 34:7; 1 Pet 3:12-13).
The Fear of God is a reverencing, Word-honoring, faith-founded love for God that keeps us from sin and allows our faith and works to pull together. Albert N. Martin highlights that this Fear of God that walks us through our day in the Lord is based on correct concepts of the character of God, a pervasive sense of the presence of God, and a constraining awareness of our obligations to God. We cannot manufacture this fear any more than we can manufacture agape love, but we can cultivate the seed God plants. We seek to obey His commands given us in His Word and persevere in the words of Hebrews 12:28-29: “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.”