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Healthy Fear

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment. Wisdom will multiply your days and add years to your life. If you become wise, you will be the one to benefit. If you scorn wisdom, you will be the one to suffer. (Proverbs 9:10-12 NLT)


Many years ago, I hiked Cannon Mountain in Franconia Notch, New Hampshire, with a friend. The hike was a little challenging, but the surrounding view made it worth the effort upon reaching the top. We had brought lunches, and I felt uneasy as we approached a ledge to sit. While my friend wanted to sit with legs dangling over the edge, I stayed comfortably well back. I had a similar experience when Janice and I visited the Grand Canyon a few years ago. While others were standing close to the rim, I stayed a comfortable 15 feet away. The discomfort I experienced nearing the cliff edge was an internal warning for physical preservation. Sometimes, fear can paralyze us to the point where we can’t move or enjoy life, and it becomes unhealthy.


Today’s verse is about having a healthy fear of God–not in a terrorizing way, but with awe and reverence. It acknowledges His compassion, holiness, justice, and mercy, and we accept Him as our Creator and Savior and our dependence on Him. When we live our lives with this knowledge, our lives are better. That inner spiritual voice of the Holy Spirit warns us when approaching harmful situations for our souls. 


However, there is an unhealthy fear of God, and this can be a tool of the evil one. It can paralyze us to the point where we can’t move or enjoy life. It becomes unhealthy when fear leads to despair or a distorted view of God as a harsh judge. I say it is the work of Satan because he would have us think God is going to strike us with lightning every time we sin–it redirects us away from the true message of love and His grace.


Heavenly Father, we come before You with hearts full of reverence and awe. We acknowledge that fearing You is the beginning of wisdom, and proper understanding comes from knowing You—the Holy One. Reflecting on this passage, we seek to cultivate a healthy fear of Your great and glorious majesty.


Lord, grant us understanding hearts. Help us grasp the weight of Your holiness and the significance of walking in Your ways. May our fear of You be a desire to live in harmony with Your righteous standards and to honor You in all we say and do. We long to know our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, more deeply. As we fellowship in His suffering and pain, reveal Your eternal character and unsurpassed attributes to us. Teach us to choose the path that leads to ultimate benefit, even when it appears difficult. May we trust Your instructions over our senses. Guard us against the negative consequences of sin. As we journey in faith, help us walk in wisdom guided by a healthy fear of You. Be with us this day and always. Amen. 


Blessings,

Pastor Tim




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