Archive for the ‘ truth ’ Category

Thinking on Fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7)

A friend asked me what I thought “fear of the Lord” means in Proverbs 1:7:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;

fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Many of us will know the textbook answer, but often it is good to think on what we already know, to continually remind ourselves of the Gospel (as Paul reminded believers of the Gospel in 1 Cor 15: 1-2: “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain.”)

I looked at several different translations of the Bible, all of which used the word “fear” but The Message version says “the first step in learning is bowing down to God.”

Matthew Henry’s commentary uses the word “reverence.”

I don’t ever read “fear of God” as the emotion we experience as we are afraid of something or anxious.  This type of emotional fear is not of God.  In the same way, I don’t see “love for God” as a warm, fuzzy emotion.  “Fear” and “love” are much deeper and are more evidenced by our attitude towards God and our behaviors than some fleeting emotion.

“Bowing down” implies making oneself less than, humble to, obedient to [God].  “Reverence” and “respect” imply working from the basic assumption that God is smarter that us, bigger than us, and more of an authority than us, so that even when we don’t “get” his law or “get” what He is doing, we work from the assumption that it is we who are flawed in our perceptions, not Him.  Thus we seek to follow Him and seek to know Him better.

I am reminded of Phil 2:7-8

rather, he made himself nothing

by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

by becoming obedient to death —

even death on a cross!

It is true that my obedience or submitting myself to God’s law does not make Him love me any more.  Rather, I love Him (because He first loved me) so I act in obedience (and because He gives me the grace to do so).  Yet the more I grow in maturity, the more experience I have with obedience yielding good results (in general, the fruit of the Spirit – joy, peace, etc.).  Thus I am more likely to want to be obedient in the future.  My past obedience leads (not to God loving me more but) to increased knowledge of God and increased awareness of how He is working in me, how he is using my obedience in my life.

I think that knowledge of God and His character is synonymous with love for God (and maybe even love for His law/ obedience to it).

Fearing God, which seems to entail bowing down before Him in obedience and submission, leads to knowledge of His character and His love for me.

I do not learn God’s character or grow closer to Him by disobedience (“fools despise wisdom and instruction”).  A fool (or an unbeliever or someone who wishes to go his own way) does not learn about God’s character and His goodness.  A fool is blind to these things and does not get to experience the fruit of God’s love.  The fool does not get to experience deeper relationship with or knowledge of God.

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Encouragement and Cake

My pastor, David*, sauntered by my desk today on his way to his office and remarked, “There has been a morose, mournful, murky cloud of melancholy over your head the past two days.” David is extremely intuitive, and very intelligent, and his words always pierce me to my heart. Many times, his words either directly to me or in his sermons bring tears to my eyes. How does he know, I wonder? He is very gifted.

I told him that I needed encouragement. He replied, “Jesus loves you.” True.

But fortunately for me and the people sitting around me trying to get their work done, he didn’t stop there. He gave me the Truth and then he expounded on it, so now I feel smarter and more empowered. Probably just fooling myself.

The words in bold are his.

Discourage means literally “to rob of courage.” The evil one likes to do this to us.

I feel exactly this. I have recently felt so inadequate and weak.

Satan will look for ways to affirm the lies we’ve always believed.

There are lies we’ve believed our whole lives, and Satan will find our weaknesses and use our circumstances and situations in our lives to confirm those lies. I am a perfectionist and some of the lies I have always told myself are that “I am never good enough. I am either perfect or I am a failure. No one will love me because I have so many flaws and my heart is messy.” The evil one is indeed using my current circumstances to affirm these things.

The truth is that I’m always going to be a better me than anyone else, and God doesn’t make mistakes. I am not going to believe that I am worthless or inadequate just because some guy doesn’t call me.

Our default is to rely on our performance. Our nature is to fall back on that, time and time again, but it will never be good enough. This is why we need to rely on the performance of Jesus Christ every day, not our own.

We never get to a place where we stop trying to rely on our performance. We live in a sinful world, and we act in accordance with our fallen nature. That’s why we need Jesus.

I constantly expect myself to have successfully dealt with all my issues and be healed forever, and when issues and insecurities surface, I feel like a failure. I wonder what is wrong with me that I feel so confident and empowered at times, and then feel so uncertain and insecure at other times. I wonder why someone’s words or actions can hurt me so much, when intellectually I know that God is my only and ultimate source of identity and self-worth.

There is not something “wrong with me,” other than the fact that I am human and I live in a sinful world.

I will keep struggling because I live in a fallen world, and my sinful, rebellious nature will always be at war with God’s will for me. I was not created for this world, and that is why it is a struggle to live here. I will constantly fall back on my performance, trying to earn God’s love and favor (or the love and attention of other people). I will continue to fail when I rely on my own strength, and I will be reminded of my need for Jesus.

Our hearts are like leaky containers with holes in the bottom. The Truth (grace, love) leaks out, and we need to constantly fill ourselves up with more Truth (grace, love).

I often feel like I should have it all figured out, once and for all. But I need God’s grace, His Word, His truth, His love, and His people every day.

We should surround ourselves with people who affirm and encourage us.

It is hard to need other people, but the truth is that I do. I am so thankful for the people in my life that affirm and encourage me. I do not need to be around people who are emotionally draining, no matter what the reason. And I do not need to blame myself for their issues

It’s okay to be a bitch.

When Satan attacks and tells us lies, we should give him attitude and fight back. I often underestimate the power of the evil one and of spiritual warfare. David says, “You’re an INTJ, it shouldn’t be hard for you to be a bitch.” He really meant it in a loving, encouraging way. Really.

Don’t date guys in the gym. They are screwed up.

My dear friend Betty* has noted this, as well.

Don’t fall in love with the icing, which consists of personality and physical attraction. We need the cake, the substance, to fill us up. The icing is delicious, but when we eat only the icing, we will end up with a headache.

Oops. I may have to work on this one.

That guy needs to stop at the front desk on the way out and turn in his man card. Immediately.

In a totally unrelated thread, David has given me tips lately on strengthening my bench press. I mentioned that the other night I did not have a great spotter; the guy complained that his forearms were sore from spotting me. He was kind of young and clearly did not know what he was doing, but my options were limited at the time. David was outraged at the egregious nature of someone’s forearms! being sore from spotting. Man card effectively revoked.

*Names have been changed.