Monday, September 17, 2007

The Fear of God Blossoms

“The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom, And before honor is humility.” – Proverbs 15:33

My daughter and I are in a match of wills. I will for her to follow my instructions, and she wills to do everything else! Frustrating? You bet! Saturday, after asking her three (that’s right –1–2-THREE!) times to clean up her bathroom I went in to find her towel crumpled onto her toilet, and a week’s pile of pajamas in the floor beside her shower. But at 10 years old, this is just a phase that she must go through to understand that it’s best to follow Mom’s rules. How do I teach her that? By making it uncomfortable for her when she doesn’t. (Actually, describing it as ‘uncomfortable’ is like a doctor saying “this will sting a little…” as he comes at you with a six inch long needle!)

But children are like that. They need some sort of motivation for following the rules. They aren’t born wanting to make their parents happy, adhere to all their instructions, and honor them all the days of their life. That has to be taught.
Sometimes that motivation can be positive like praise for a job well done, or a small reward like a candy bar in the checkout lane. But other times, the motivation has to be negative to induce their obedience the next time an instruction is given. As they endure those punishments, they learn obedience.

Obedience is a learned response. Ivan Pavlov was a Russian psychologist that studied conditioned reflexes using dogs in the 1890’s. For a period of time, Pavlov would ring a bell, then feed his dogs. After a while, all he had to do was ring the bell and his dogs would salivate in expectation of their food. They knew what to expect based on past experiences, and even their bodies were conditioned to react to the sound. Likewise, my children have learned that the sound of my voice at a certain tone can induce great pain to their backside. And when they hear that sound, the conditioned reflex is one of obedience.

God’s children are no different. As young Christians, we often hear His voice, and completely ignore it. We test His will against our own. We try his patience, and then God our Father finally shouts “ENOUGH!” Then, the punishment comes. Through that punishment we become conditioned to not allow it to happen again. As we grown in Christ, our knowledge of the importance of following God’s will increases because our experiences teach us how uncomfortable it is not to follow Him.

That is called “The Fear of the Lord”. The fear of the Lord is not a trembling in the corner, hiding under the bed, praying to not be seen kind of fear! God would never want his children to cower in fear of Him! To fear God simply means to understand His power in your life, and to want to fulfill His will over yours. Obedience begins as a reaction to the fear of His wrath.

But God wants us to grow past that, whereby our reaction is rooted in a yearning to please Him. This stage of growth is like a bud turning into a flower! It’s the point at which the Fear of God becomes Wisdom. Wisdom is something to be seen as a crown of honor. Wisdom is a reaction to a powerful God that causes Him to be pleased with you. Wisdom is a reward to the perfectly joined will of God and man.

“My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,
So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding;
Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,
If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will understand the fear of the LORD,
And find the knowledge of God.
For the LORD gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;” – Proverbs 2:1-6

Blossom my dear friends in the knowledge of God! Incline your ear to him, apply the knowledge you receive to your heart, and cry out for more! This hidden treasure is worth far more than anything our own will could add to us. Praise be to God that he is a Father who desires to give us good gifts! Praise be to God for wisdom!

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