Summary: Fear God? Seriously? I thought that was "so" Old Testament. But 18 times Proverbs repeats the theme that wise people will "fear the LORD". Can fearing God actually be a good thing?
OPEN: A policeman was walking his beat. I don’t know if he was writing a ticket or watching a suspicious individual, but he was distracted enough that he barely felt the tug on his coat. He turned, and there stood a little girl.
“Can I help you?” the policeman asked her.
“My mommy told me that if I needed help I should find a policeman,” she replied.
Suddenly a little alarmed the policeman asked “Oh… what’s wrong?”
Looking down she put out one of her feet and asked: “Could you tie my shoes?”
APPLY: Now, why did that little girl look for a policeman?
She knew he would help.
She knew he could be trusted.
She knew that she didn’t have to fear him.
ILLUS: Now, let’s change the scene for a second.
You’re driving down the road, in a 55 mph zone, going 65 mph.
I know you’d never do such a thing, but just for the sake of argument, let’s say you did. And you’re not the only one. It seems that everybody else on the road is also driving at about 65 mph.
Now, over the crest of the hill comes a police car.
What happens? (wait for audience to reply)
That’s right, they slow down!
Because they don’t believe the policeman is there to help them.
They don’t think they can trust him to overlook their indiscretion.
In fact, they believe they have good reason to fear him.
They’ve been caught doing something wrong.
Now bear in mind – they don’t know WHO that policeman is.
It might be their uncle Fred.
It might be the a close friend.
It might even be someone they know and like.
They don’t know who is behind the wheel of the police car. But it doesn’t matter. That car represents the hand of judgment. And they’ve been doing wrong.
And they’re afraid.
The Bible tells us that some fear is a good thing.
In fact in the very first chapter of Proverbs we’re told:
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline” Proverbs 1:7
This “Fear of the Lord” is mentioned 18 times in Proverbs. And it’s repeated so often because the writer of these proverbs believes this kind of fear is an important trait of wisdom.
Now, I collected all 18 of those verses and I began to sort through them looking for things they might have in common. And I found that a vast majority of those verses taught that “fearing God” can have two very important benefits for those who are wise enough to practice it.
• The first benefit of fearing God is that it helps me to avoid evil.
“To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.” Proverbs 8:13
If I fear God I’ll avoid evil things. In fact I’ll hate evil things.
But, if I don’t - I won’t.
If I don’t fear God, I won’t hate evil.
ILLUS: I was recently listening to a preacher tell about two sets of parents in one of the churches he’d served. Their children were going to a prom… and both of these “God fearing Christians” had rented rooms in hotels for their children and their dates… so they could spend the night together.
(Pause) Now, were these “God fearing parents?” (Wait for audience to respond).
No, they weren’t!
They didn’t care what God thought.
And they didn’t care about the judgment God would bring upon their family for this evil.
They did NOT fear God - and so they did not hate evil.
In fact, they embraced evil.
ILLUS: Another preacher had worked hard on inviting a non-Christian friend to church. The friend learned about Christ and was eventually baptized into Christ. But after a few months, he stopped coming to church. That frustrated the preacher because he’d spent so much time getting his friend to decide to go to church and ultimately to belong to Jesus. So, the preacher went out to find out why his friend had stopped coming.
The friend explained that he’d decided to quit the church when one of the leaders in that church got up to give a devotion. The church was large enough that the new Christian hadn’t noticed him before, but when he did, he recognized the man as a manager at the plant he worked at. This “Christian leader” had a reputation at that plant… he took just about everything that wasn’t nailed down. He would take home, tools and paper and whatever else he could sneak out the door.
He was a thief. When the preacher’s friend realized this man was a leader at church… he left.
(Pause) Now, aside from the fact that this probably wasn’t the best way for this new Christian to deal with this situation… was that “Christian leader” a God fearing man? (Wait for the audience to reply).