Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight…The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
Proverbs 9 vv. 6-10
I was once told quite loudly that “the word fear as to fear the Lord written in several areas of the Bible, is not who God is. The loud one-sided conversation continued to note “that God is too loving for us to fear Him.” I listened and said, “I’ll get back to you on this topic soon.”
That evening I began a soft investigation of what the Bible refers to when the word “fear,” as in fearing God, shows up. From a Hebraic stance, yare is used, meaning adoration; likewise, it is described as harshness. In the most significant meaning, it is my thought that yare is not used to wreak havoc in our hearts. It is not used to instill anxiety that God will strike us down for every despicable thought or horrible action. And it does not mean that our loving Father wants us to be afraid of Him.
In harmony with the entire teachings of the Bible– these teachings leading to Jesus—we know that from His inception, Jesus came to save us from ourselves. Jesus being God incarnate, we adore and worship. And, in so doing, we offer God our earnest worship for who He is, for what He has done, and for what He continues to do in our lives. Therefore, in its core meaning, fearing God is being honorable toward Him—offering Him our adulation and complete reverence. Although it is evident that yare is used to infuse terror in areas of the Bible, I assert that indications of “tough love” are sometimes what we need to truly recognize God’s love for us. Those who are parents understand that life does happen while not sparing our children. And with evidence of the outside world creeping into our children’s lives, we too, from time to time, must practice “tough love”.
So, about a week later, I added to the conversation I mentioned above. I chose an email of a contextual response, which offered biblical references to boot. The answer to my email was cordial, leading this individual to want to know more on this subject. I was then asked a question every week, and I did my best to respond from a focused discipleship perspective with nouthetic influences. This approach served us both well. Now, through these weekly email exchanges, we have both grown in knowing Christ. I think of the partial verse in Isaiah 61 v. 3b here:
“…that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that they may be glorified.”
Oak trees are magnificent. They are strong and have roots that are far-reaching beneath the ground. Occasionally they will display a root or two. But mostly, these roots are hidden beneath the ground, supporting, and nourishing these stunning trees. Our strength comes from God and our spiritual maturity is in knowing Him as intended. Daily, God plants us into some uncomplicated and as well complex situations. I described one above! Striving to communicate through such situations can be daunting. These situations can cause us to think unproductive thoughts and to react ineffectively. But still, remember this:
“Being mature in Christ is being conformed to His image, and therefore it is walking as He walked. As if we have received Christ, so let us walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as we have been taught, abounding in Thanksgiving (Col. 2 vv. 6-7)” (Ross, 2016. Pg. 25)
Easier said than done? Or hopeful possibilities? We get to decide.
Endurance toward spiritual maturity is not easy. It can be painstakingly difficult to confront unnecessary, deliberate, and problematic behaviors we inflict on ourselves and throw out to others. Yet, shortly after Jesus’ consecration, quoting from Isaiah 61 vv. 1-2a, He tells us He has come to proclaim the good news to the poor, to give us liberty, and to make us see (Luke 4 vv. 18-19)! From the beginning of his ministry, Jesus reinforces why we must have faith in Him. Faith in Him to change us.
Spiritual maturity is a necessary element of growth. Personal growth on this Christian path is embedded in spiritual maturity and how we approach God’s teachings. Are we willing to waste time on make-believe Christianity? On fluff? Or maybe even the manufactured stuff? If you are tempted by these things, stop first, then think about how the early Christians sustained for nineteen or so centuries. They competently existed only through mere lessons from the Bible in times much tougher than we have today! So, Let’s consider what primary appeal God’s Word should have on us. This discernment should matter. To be edified and to grow, we must seriously consider what we spend time on and who we spend time with.
A good example is meaningful time spent with those who share faithful Biblical teachings saturated in God’s Word. Though, meeting with someone who believes differently can open opportunities to listen keenly and share our informed beliefs. We share in kindness.
I can go on and on, on this topic, but I will end this series for now.
“For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all nations.” (Isaiah 61 v. 11)
The springtime sprouts now offer me a great harvest of goodies for winter meals. When applied, watered, and cared for, God’s words reap glorious harvests of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal.5 vv. 22-23). Supreme elements toward this spiritual maturity we seek! While giving Him complete reverence and praise!
I enjoy growing in God’s Word with you! I’ll be back soon!
All Bible verses used are from the English Standard Version (ESV). Crossway Publishers.
Ross, M. E. Dr. (2016). Mature in Christ. Table Talk Magazine, 40(11), pg. 25.