I’ve heard it said before that there are three kinds of fear in life: healthy fear, harmful fear, and holy fear. Healthy fear is when you’re watching for deer on the back roads. It is healthy to be afraid of crashing your car! Harmful fear is when you are fearful for no rational reason. It is when fear of the unknown has crippled you. This kind of fear is physically and spiritually harmful. Holy fear, on the other hand, is the best fear to have. Holy fear is reverence and awe towards the Lord because of who He is and who we are. It is a kind of fear that says, “God, I adore and revere You because you are holy, righteous, and good—and I am not.” It is not the cringing fear of a slave before his master, but the loving reverence and respect a child has for his father.
The word of God has a lot to say about this holy fear—fearing the Lord, that is. Here are just four things the Scripture says about fearing God: (1) Fearing the Lord is the wisest thing you can do. Proverbs 1:7 states, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Fearing God is fundamentally smart. It is the very start of true wisdom and knowledge. Conversely, it is foolish to live with no reverence or fear towards the Lord (see also Proverbs 9:10). (2) Fearing the Lord is man’s duty. Solomon states at the end of Ecclesiastes 12:13, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” It is your duty to fear the Lord. (3) Fearing the Lord leads to life and satisfaction. The best life you can live is one where you bow down to God in your thoughts, desires, and conduct. Over and over Scripture says things like, “The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm” (Proverbs 19:23). If you fear the Lord, you will be content and satisfied in a way that sin or the world cannot provide. (4) Fearing the Lord leads to the avoidance of sin. You can’t fear God and commit sin at the same time. Fearing God will lead you away from wrongdoing. That’s why Proverbs 14:17 states, “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.” When you fear the Lord, you won’t step into the trap of sin, the snares of death. So, what kind of fear do you have—healthy, harmful, or holy fear?
Editor’s Note: Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of the Murray Ledger & Times.