What Does Fearing God Mean? Why Should we Fear God? - Guest Post by Jamie Bird

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. - Proverbs 9:10


Last week, a lengthy power outage made me question my basic survival skills. I felt useless. I was reminded that I am practically incapable of any usual daily activities without electricity!! Thankfully, we had a generator to power our well pump, fridge, and other necessities. The whole experience made me appreciate the luxury I have become so accustomed to using each day - electricity. Since many neighborhoods in my city were also without power, the outage was a basically a continual conversation wherever I went. Everyone was talking about how long they were without power. We all wanted air-conditioning. And each household hoped that their grid would be the next to be restored.

Electricity is an absolute necessity in our society. Every single person that I know appreciates and understands the value of electricity. (And that even includes my Amish friends!) It is welcomed into our homes and regarded as a priority among our bills. But we also fear it. We know what electricity can do if we are careless. We use caution and teach our children how to use it properly (and not stick utensils into power outlets!!)


Just as it is healthy and good to recognize and fear the power of electricity, it is also healthy and good to fear our All-Powerful God. The fear of God is much different from the fear of electricity, though. Electricity doesn’t care about me or you. It can be dangerous and deadly. On the other hand, God is not reckless. Everything He does is good and righteous. That being said, if we understand how fantastic and useful electricity is and yet accept that we must fear it, shouldn't we realize that God, who created electricity, is worthy of reverence and fear?


The wisest person ever to live, King Solomon, wrote that fearing God is the beginning of wisdom. (Proverbs 9:10) Sadly, many believe that only a cruel or manipulative god would expect and desire his creation to fear him. They believe that since God is love, fearing Him would be admitting that God has some sort of “dark side.”


It is true that God is love. But He has so many other characteristics, too! If we are confused about a characteristic of God, perhaps we are thinking of our humanistic view of that trait. For example, God’s love is different than our love. His wisdom is deeper. His thoughts are higher. He is good, pure, and there is no darkness in Him. (1 John 1:5)


God defined what love is. He proved His love to us by dying for us even though we rejected Him. Three days later, He defied death and was raised from the dead. That is the basis of the beliefs Jesus-followers. God is also bigger and more powerful than our human minds could ever comprehend. I mean, He pretty much invented the sun and made it in less than a day. That alone is a pretty big deal. God designed the atom, spoke the world into existence, and yet invites us to have a personal relationship with Him! The thought of His holiness should be enough to stun us! We should realize His power, and be in awe that He gave us everything we could ever need. God has the power to do whatever He wants with us, but chose to give Himself to us.

With these thoughts in mind, let’s talk about the word “fear.” In the Old Testament, “fear” is often the word “yare.” It sounds like “yaw-ray.” It means to fear, to revere, to frighten, to make afraid, or dread. In other words, we are to revere God. There are different words in the Bible that mean terror, alarm, and horror. These kinds of fears (or horrors) come when we don’t know God. They can also become prevalent in our hearts when we don’t trust God. The fear of God should be so deep within us that we are completely focused on Him. Fearing God actually takes away the other kinds of fear that cause us anxiety, stress, and trepidation. When we choose to be fully dedicated in our adoration of God, there is no room for terror, panic, or fear of the future.


When we choose to be fully dedicated in our adoration of God, there is no room for fear of the future.

Jesus even gave us a strong, yet loving warning in Matthew 10:28, "Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul. Rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Jesus gave us the ultimate example of how to fear God.

As we each learn more about God, we should also grow in our fear and love of Him. He is worthy of our full adoration, reverence, obedience, and fear.