“Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others…. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:11a, 14-15 ESV).
There’s been a lot written on the fear of the Lord, and a lot more could be written. Perhaps someday I will tackle the subject in more detail. For our purposes today we’ll use the following working definition. The fear of the Lord is a deep respect and awe for an infinitely holy God who desires to save all people and requires holiness from all people, a holiness that can only be found in relationship with His son Jesus.
I had already been a Christian for many years when I had my first dramatic and powerful interaction with God. I was having my quiet time, and was reading Matthew’s account of Jesus’ crucifixion. In Matthew 27:34 we read that “they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it” (ESV). I grabbed my bible study tools to figure out why He wouldn’t drink it. I began by looking at the word “gall”. When I found that gall was used as a sedative, used to relieve pain, I realized that Jesus would not drink it because He had to experience every bit of that pain and agony to provide salvation to us.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5 ESV).
I found myself weeping, nearly uncontrollably, as I was convicted of my sins. I understood more completely that Jesus not only died for my sins, but also experienced every bit of His suffering on the cross because of my sin! I had my first brush with the holiness of God and the fear of the Lord.
I renewed my efforts to reach people for Jesus with the message of salvation. “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others…. For the love of Christ controls us….”
To my shame, my efforts did not remain at that level. My life has been scarred by years wasted in living for myself, years where I lost the fear of the Lord in the business of life, even life in the Church. It is so easy to become caught up in other things, even active ministry, that we forget from where we have come and Who it is that brought us out.
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV).
I encourage you to set aside some time this weekend to remember.
Blessings on your weekend!