I’ve been thinking about this concept some and, of course, did a little research on my own. That word for fear is yir’ah meaning to be afraid, be reverent; reverence, awe, piety; reverence for the Lord.
Seems to me that we, as the church collectively, have lost an appropriate reverence for the Lord in many ways. We’ve become satisfied with God on our terms. We look for churches where our needs can be met. We want the music to be the kind we like. We want sermons that make us feel good. And on the list could go.
An older gentleman at my church commented to me that he believes churches have lost sight of Romans 12:1 – 2. His thought was that churches have become conformed to the world. My immediate internal reaction was to be defensive about our church – my husband is on staff, after all. Then I began listing in my mind all the ways I felt this man had failed to be transformed by the Word. Finally, though, this evening as I pondered today, I realized something … if I had to rate myself on a scale from being conformed to the world versus transformed by the Word, I would lean toward the former … by a lot.
I’d love to justify myself and list for you all the ways I serve and minister, the time I spend in study and the number of people I teach and encourage. But the truth is … God is not concerned about my actions as much as He is yearning for my heart to be entirely His.
1 Samuel 15:22—But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings or sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”
Obey in this verse means to give undivided attention. That made me think … how often do I give God my undivided attention?
When we are talking to Casiday, both Scott and I expect her undivided attention. We want her to listen to what we are saying, to understand and to put it into action. She may not always understand why it is important for her to listen and obey us, she may not always want to do so. But we understand that it is in her best interest to listen and obey us.
Don’t you think that God feels the same way about us? We may not understand why He is allowing specific circumstances into our lives. We may not see how He is working around us. We may not feel His presence. But, He is always working out His plan for us … that plan for our good (Jeremiah 29:11).
I believe that we lack an appropriate fear of the Lord and therefore we allow ourselves to believe that it’s all about us. The reality is, our focus becomes so selfish when we lose our awe of the Lord. We convince ourselves that our good deeds, our sacrifices, are enough. When God Himself has said He longs for our hearts.
Micah 6:8—He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Matthew 22:37—Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
I have been reminded today that in my ongoing quest for knowledge, I must first and foremost give God the priority place in my life. Instead of wanting what works for me, I need to desire Him. Instead of focusing on myself, I need to focus on Him. Instead of conforming to the world, I need to be transformed by THE WORD. Instead of living for myself, I need to crucify myself for Him. Instead of fearing what others might think, I need to live in awe of the God who first loved me.