I’d like to dovetail my article with the one that Ed wrote last week about the “Be” Attitudes. These were instructions directly from the mouth of Jesus Christ on how to live, regardless of how we’re treated or how things are going all around us. I can make a list of these attributes and work through them, focusing on each one for a week and by the time I reach the third one, I would probably fail on the first one. So how do we apply these to our lives and make them stick. I can’t tell you how many books I have read or seen that talk about Christian living and how to be an example to others. The apostle Paul talks about pursuing Christ-likeness in his life and how we need to strive to seek the same for ourselves. We have all sang songs that describe these same attitudes and we genuinely desire to live these out in our lives. All of these resources, books, songs, and various instructions tell us what these Christ-like characteristics are, but I believe we need to focus on the how and why we do these before we can attempt to make long lasting changes in our lives.
I would argue that until we recognize the key ingredient or prerequisite for Christ-like Christian living, our attempts will be short lived and we will find ourselves struggling with circumstances we find ourselves in. So what is this prerequisite? It all begins with a healthy reverence and fear of God, We see this in the great examples of people throughout Scripture. Daniel was able to have a fearless attitude towards king Nebuchadnezzar and not falter in his faith, even when faced with the most difficult challenges that had an impact on his own life. Abraham was able to bind his only son Isaac, the key person to the covenantal promise in order to offer him up as a sacrifice. Noah was able to ignore all the criticism of the sinful people who ridiculed him for building the ark so far away from any body of water. Elijah was able to speak with boldness in the face of sinful people. Complete obedience to God doesn’t come without fear of Him and complete trust in him. Fear of God could have prevented Adam and Eve from being deceived by the serpent. Fear of God could have kept Cain from killing Abel. Fear of God could have kept the Israelites from spending 40 years wandering in the wilderness. Fear of God can keep us from making foolish mistakes in our own lives.
Psalm 115:9-13 speaks to the Israelites as a whole, the house of Aaron (the priesthood), and all those who believe. It says, “Israel, trust in the Lord! He is their help and shield. House of Aaron, trust in the Lord! He is their help and shield. You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord! He is their help and shield. The Lord remembers us and will bless us. He will bless the house of Israel; He will bless the house of Aaron; He will bless those who fear the Lord—small and great alike.”
Jesus Christ had complete trust in God and was totally committed to doing His Father’s will. Nothing else mattered to Him. Even His own life didn’t keep Him from doing His Father will.
When we ignore who God is and develop a fearless attitude towards Him, we begin focusing more on ourselves, what we want in this life and what we want to do with our lives. Instead, we need to recognize that our time here on earth is short. Everything we can acquire here is so temporal. We view the Christ-like attitudes and instructions as difficult or not as important. The best life anyone can muster up here on earth is so minuscule and insignificant compared to what God is preparing for us and what we should be focusing on. We must be willing to give up everything in order to follow Christ. We cannot get caught up in the here and now. In order to pursue beatitude-type living, we must first recognize who we are in comparison to God and fear Him for who He is. This applies to all aspects of our life.
Do you want to have a great marriage? Fear God.
Do you want to be a great parent? Fear God.
Do you want to be an amazing employee? Fear God.
Do you want to have a blessed life? Fear God.
Do you want to be a child of God? Fear God.
Here are other passages which point to the importance of fearing God.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Prov 1:7)
Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! (Ps 33:8)
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. (Eccl 12:13)
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Phil 2:12-13)
Fear of God is the key to understanding how and why we should be totally committed to following God and by which we can have the proper attitude to be more Christ-like!