Summary: It gives an insight into why we need to fear the Lord and explains three kinds of half-heartedness.
Fear of the Lord, is a very common concept almost all the preachers have spoken on, I am sure even now as you hear me you will feel the same thing. But I want to take you on a different perspective. The fear of the Lord leads to wholeness, I want to get to the key verse, it is found in Deuteronomy 10:12 And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Isn’t it interesting to note that God is asking his own creatures to fear him? Let’s for a moment think of us as someone in authority, by virtue of office or position respect is gained, we don’t demand respect, do we? But here, God the creator is asking his people to fear Him, you know why He wants us to have a whole life and in the whole life he wants us to love him, serve him with all the soul and all the mind. Nothing half-hearted. But let me also help you understand that most of the time, we do things half-hearted and that’s why we don’t prosper most of the time, a keen look into the scripture from Deuteronomy and relevant text from Acts will help us learn three kinds of half-heartedness. Before getting to the key criteria let me quote what the heart is all about from J. Stowell’s perspective.
“Heart is used in Scripture as the most comprehensive term for the authentic person. It is the part of our being where we desire, deliberate, and decide. It has been described as "the place of conscious and decisive spiritual activity," "the comprehensive term for a person as a whole; his feelings, desires, passions, thought, understanding and will," and "the center of a person. The place to which God turns." The first kind of half-heartedness is:
1. HALF-HEARTED GIVING: (Acts 5:1-11)
Here we read about a very interesting couple named Ananias and Sapphira, they did an act that brought a great fear in the church. They were influenced by what Barnabas did; he sold a piece of property and gave it to the disciples for the use of the extension of God’s kingdom. This influenced this couple that they also sold a property and brought to the disciples. The Bible tells us in 5:1 that they also…this indicates to the fact they probably did it not to please God but rather to gain a recognition from the disciples. I would call this half-hearted giving. The reason is that the apostle Peter says, “was not the property yours before being sold and also the money yours after being sold, but then why have you decided to cheat the Holy Spirit,” and the Bible tells us that both of them decided to do the same kind of cheating. They had a poor understanding of God and his virtues. I am reminded of an incident that I read in an article, it read that – a businessman shared a testimony on a Sunday morning in the church, he said, ‘Few years ago I came to the church and during the offering time I placed in the offering plate the last dollar I had, that was my living and today I am the most rich man in terms of everything I want to thank God for what He has made me.” And then the man sat down silently and the whole church was spellbound and there was pin drop silence and to kill the dead silence, an old woman stood up and asked him, ‘You did it when you had a single dollar, will you be able to do it again.’ Again silence filled the place. Dear people of God I don’t know what the businessman said or did, but if God asks you the same question what would be our response. The Bible tells us in Proverbs 10:27 ‘The fear of the LORD adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short.’ This verse is true since the wicked lives are cut short that is what had happened to Ananias and Sapphira. Are we half-hearted in giving? Don’t give to please the people around but if God tells you give secretly, the Lord will honor openly, lets never trying cheating God.
2. HALF-HEARTED BELIEVING: (Acts 8:9-25)
This passage talks about a man named Simon the sorcerer who believed in God and also was baptized but had a wicked heart. He had a half-hearted believing. This is an interesting content since Simon had amazed people for a while with his magic. But he knew from his context that Philip, John and Peter were better Magicians, since when they placed their hands on people, people began speaking in strange tongues and therefore he decided that he would offer money and buy the gift cause he was wicked in his heart. He did not fully believe cause verse 13 says, “…And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.” What he believed according to the scripture was the manifestations of what Philip did with the help of God and he did not believe in God but in miracles. This is what I want to call as “Half-hearted Believing.” I am reminded of an incident, once a pastor in a village prayed for his people and miracles took place and the village sorcerer was losing business so he decided to cast spells on the pastor. Everyday this sorcerer sent evil casted egg to the pastor’s house. This poor pastor did not have egg for a long time ever since he left the Bible College, such was his poor condition. So it was a blessing for him in disguise he began thanking God for the egg, ate it everyday. After 30 days there was no ill effect on the pastor from the witchcraft spell so the sorcerer decided to send 2 eggs a day with more incantation, now the pastor’s wife also started enjoying the egg, some days scrambled and some days boiled. Finally the magician believed in God and was saved. This pastor had whole-hearted belief in God that’s why no evil spells ever bothered him. In conclusion I want to quote a scripture from Proverbs 15:16 ‘Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil.’ Simon the sorcerer was not happy with what God could give him; he wanted more power so he could gain more wealth, what an irony he was vehemently opposed by the apostles and fear gripped Simon’s heart that we read in v.24. May we have a whole-hearted belief.