“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Proverbs 9:10
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” Proverbs 1:7
I am endeavouring to build a healthy lifestyle right now. I have wanted to lose a few pounds and try and keep it off. I am on day nine of my diet and actually have been quite successful. By making some simple adjustments to my diet (no chips, pop and sweets) and better choices (salad instead of fries, drinking more water) I have lost 5 pounds in that period of time. But there is another side to healthier living that I haven't touched yet and that is exercise. My approach is very one sided at this time and I know that if I am truly interested in being healthy and not just being skinny, I need to be concerned about this other side of health. If I was to sum it up in a formula, it would look like this:
Healthy Eating + Exercise = A Healthy Lifestyle
I began my faith journey in the 1970's. It was the summer between grade eight and grade nine. Our family became involved with some camp meetings put on by the United Church renewal fellowship at Carrick Camp just outside of Mildmay, Ontario. One Sunday night they showed a film called a Distant Thunder, a part of a series of movies on the second-coming of Jesus. It was the Left-Behind series of its time. It was an all out scare you into the kingdom event. I actually call my testimony, “Scared into the Kingdom”. I was filled with anxious dread about being left behind. I was fearful of having my head chopped off. I didn't respond to the altar call, but later that night I couldn't sleep and asked Jesus into my heart in my parents bedroom.
As I began to grow in my knowledge of God and my relationship with Christ I became gripped with Christ's love and my fear quickly faded and was overshadowed by his overwhelming love for me. It was fear that brought me to Christ, but it was His love that held me. But now I am being pulled back again to fear. Not the anxious dread of my teenage years, but to a deep sense of reverence and awe for God. The reason is because if I do not have this, my understanding of God is built on a shaky foundation.
The writer of Hebrews states in Hebrews 12:29, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful and worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” This fear is an essential part of faith in God. Solomon after an incredible search to find purpose and meaning concluded that the number one priority in life is to “fear God and obey his commands” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). He also states that fear of God is foundational, it is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge.
I remember reading an article a number of years ago, can't remember where it was, about the math it requires for NASA to launch a rocket into space. It mentioned that a one degree error at launch would mean that it would be off course by over a 1000 kms by the time it hit the earth's atmosphere. A mistake at the beginning can cause major variations in a short period of time. I think this is the point of Proverbs 9:10. The Fear of God is the starting point of understanding His holiness, His greatness, His glory, His majesty, His judgement, His righteousness and all other things that make us realize how incredible God is. If I am off on these things, I have the potential to skew my view of God and tailor it towards my preferences. Instead of man being made in the image of God, I begin to make God in my image. A proper view of God is essential to right thinking about everything. If I was to some it up in a formula it would look something like this.
Love of God + Fear of God = Devotion to God
As Jerry Bridges says in his classic work The Practice of Godliness, “The fear of God should provide a primary motivation for, as well as result in, obedience to Him. If we truly reverence God we will obey Him, since every act of disobedience is an affront to His dignity and Majesty.” 1
“Fear God and serve Him only.” Deuteronomy 6:3
1. Jerry Bridges, The Practice of Godliness (Navpress, 1983 p. 30)