We’re continuing through the Gospel of Luke. Jesus is teaching His disciples in chapter 12. We now come to a very interesting portion of Scripture. In this section we’re going to see two important aspects of fear.
“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.”
Luke 12:4-5 NIV
The first thing we need to understand is the fear of the Lord. This is the foundation of a mature walk with God. We know from Scripture that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10) and the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7).
I’ve heard people teach about the fear of the Lord in the past. Sometimes they’re a little off base when they say that this kind of fear is only a healthy respect. I choose to differ.
The word for fear in this verse is the Greek word from which we get the word phobia. It’s talking about actual fear, but you need to understand how it works.
This kind means a fear that changes your actions. Because you know the possible outcomes, you change what you’re doing. That’s the fear of the Lord.
I know that there will be a final Judgment Seat. There’s a lot at stake. Jesus says that if found guilty, I could be thrown into hell – literally, the lake of fire.
But, I know how I’ll be judged, and I know how to come through with an innocent verdict. The only way to freedom is through the payment made by Jesus Christ on the cross.
Since I know this, it changes what I do. I accept His Lordship over my life. I strive to please Him. This is the fear of the Lord. It’s more than respect; it’s a change of lifestyle.
Having said that, there’s another part to this fear. Look at what Jesus says immediately following this thought.
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Luke 12:6-7 NIV
Having talked about judgment and hell, Jesus wants to make things clear to His disciples. Knowing all of this, should I constantly be living under the fear of hell? Absolutely not!
I’ve come to Christ and declared Him as Lord of my life. Now my future is secure in Him. My fear of the future should be gone.
Now I need to concentrate on the grace, goodness, and love of the Lord. His knowledge of me and my situations are deeper than I could ever imagine. Even though I may feel neglected at times, I’m never out of His thoughts. God is always working on my behalf.
Along with this, I need to cultivate a healthy fear of the Lord. But, I’m not talking about fear of judgment and hell. It has a different focus.
I saw a documentary once about diamond cutters. One in particular paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for a huge uncut diamond. He believed that if he cut it just right, the cut diamonds would be worth millions of dollars.
What he did surprised me. He didn’t just start cutting. He spent the next year studying the diamond and making notes. He didn’t want to ruin the diamond with a wrong cut.
That’s a great view of the fear of the Lord. I don’t fear judgment and hell. But, my relationship with God is so valuable to me, I don’t want to mess it up. I want it to become more valuable each day.
My relationship with Christ is like an uncut diamond. I don’t see the final outcome yet. God knows what I can become. So, I want to follow His plan as closely as possible each step of the way.
This is what the fear of the Lord is all about. It can be the greatest blessing of your life. Cultivate it more and more each day.
Question: How do you see the fear of the Lord changing your actions?
© 2022 Nick Zaccardi