"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction." Proverbs 1:7
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." Proverbs 9:10
I read a quote recently that made me laugh at first, but then it made me think. "You can see the face of panic and fear in a car with the sign Student Driver on the door - not on the face of the driver, but rather, on the face of the instructor in the passenger seat." My oldest daughter got her driver's license about a year ago, and now my oldest son has his driver's permit. I can definitely relate to that quote about panic and fear on the face of the person in the passenger's seat. So far, my kids have proven to be good drivers, but I still struggle from time to time to fully trust them behind the wheel.
In our world today, it seems as though knowledge and wisdom are readily available at every turn. We can pull up anything we want on the internet - not just in our homes or our offices, but now on our phones and our tablets. We are an information-driven people. We have so much information, and we believe that all of this information makes us more knowledgeable and wiser. However, God's Word is very clear. Knowledge and wisdom begin with the fear of the Lord. When I am embracing and living in the fear of the Lord, it means that I am in awe of God. It means that I have a solemn reverence for God. It means that I am beginning to understand both God's wrath and God's love. And the fear of the Lord includes a complete trust in God. With this fear of the Lord comes the beginning of true knowledge and true wisdom. These are not something that mankind can; these gifts come from God alone through the fear of the Lord. For the Christ follower, information is a good thing, and it is helpful. However, for the Christ follower information is not the goal. Transformation is the goal of the Christ follower. Transformation comes through revelation. We want to be more like Christ in every way. We want to be more like Christ each and every day. To fear the Lord is to honor Him and to respect Him, to be captivated by His awesome power and love. As a Christ follower, it is the fear of the Lord that leads me to understanding. It is the fear of the Lord that leads me to His love and to His grace. His love and His grace drive my desire to trust Him, to obey Him, and to serve Him. A Christ follower truly growing in knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of the Lord will want to serve Him and please Him out of HIs abundant grace and love. A Christ follower who doesn't truly understand the fear of the Lord will try to serve and please God out of fear God's wrath and punishment instead. As Christ followers, the true blessings of service and obedience don't come out of an attitude of "I have to serve God or He will get me." True blessing of service and obedience come out of an attitude of "I want to serve God because He loves me." Paul tells us in Romans 8:12-17, "Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation - but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his suffering in order that we might also share in his glory." Paul says that we are the children of God. He says that because of God's grace and love, we no longer live in fear as slaves. Rather, we live in grace and love as children of the awesome God! In Psalm 128:1-4, maybe that is why the psalmist said it this way: "Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Yes, this will be the blessing for the man who fears the Lord." I pray that today the fear of the Lord brings you to knowledge, to wisdom, and to understanding. I pray that you will know that God loves you and know that His amazing grace is available to you through Jesus Christ. I pray that today the fear of the Lord moves you to a place where you know that you are a child of God, an heir to all that He possesses, rather than a slave living in fear of wrath. And I pray that you will live this truth out loud. I pray that you will serve God and aim to obey Him and please Him out of His abundant and everlasting love and grace for you. Amen! Amen! Amen!