A sermon by Dr Donald T. Williams - donaldtwilliams.com
Last week we saw what the Fear of the Lord is and why it is the begining of wisdom. Today, as we continue tracing this fascinating phrase through the Book of Proverbs, we will look at the Fruit of fearing the Lord and how to cultivate it.
The Fruit of fearing the Lord includes:A HOLY LIFE (3:7, 16:6, 8:13). Obviously, the greater our fear of the Lord, the more seriously we will take His commandments. But the connection between fearing Him and a holy life goes much deeper than that. While it is very useful to know the Rules, the Christian life is not primarily about keeping rules; it is first about a Relationship. If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, then only when we are rightly related to Him can we begin to apply the Law in ways that will bring Him glory and do good to ourselves and our fellow man. Otherwise, we either despair completely or just turn ourselves into a new generation of self-righteous Pharisees. The attitude toward God and His creation that flows from truly fearing Him, which can only flow from a real relationship with Him through faith in Christ, is the indispensable context for the pursuit of real goodness. A FEARLESS LIFE (14:26). Ironically, the Fear of the Lord, like perfect Love, casts out fear. If we truly fear God, in other words, then we need not fear anyone else. What can mere man do to us? Torture us to death as martyrs, for one thing. But it is only the Fear of the Lord, not our own internal resources of stoic strength, that can let us face the worst that man or devil can do with equanimity and confidence. A CONTENTED LIFE (15:16, 23:17). Better is a little with the Fear of the Lord than great riches with turmoil. The Fear of the Lord helps us keep things in perspective. If we fear Him as we should, then material things can never have quite the same hold on us. Like Tolkien's hobbits, we will enjoy them greatly because we are capable of doing without them. Only as we truly fear the Lord can we learn with Paul to be content in whatever state we find ourselves. A LONG LIFE (10:27, 3:1-2). The tendency of the Fear of the Lord is to give you a longer life, and better health for a longer portion of it. Obviously, many devout Christians die young and many profane people live to a ripe old age. But we are dealing with proverbs here, not absolutes. A proverb is a generalization distilled from long human experience and put into a pithy epigram. Solomon's were inspired, but they still have the nature of proverbs. So there are going to be exceptions, but in general the Fear of the Lord tends to promote long life. If we view our bodies as His property given to us in stewardship, we are going to take care of them, not burden them with tobacco or excessive alcohol or recreational drugs. Perhaps more significantly, the Fear of the Lord, as we have already seen, tends to courage and contentment. Medical science is increasingly learning more about the role of stress, guilt, and anxiety in fostering disease, particularly those two great killers Heart Disease and Cancer. Fearing the Lord makes it easier to avoid turning these powerful dark and negative emotional, psychological, and spiritual forces inward on ourselves, and hence to avoid the damage they do to the whole person, including the body. A PRODUCTIVE LIFE (31:30). The great productivity of the Virtuous Woman of Proverbs 31 is here attributed to her fear of the Lord. No doubt the same principle would apply to men. Why? Because one who fears the Lord truly is going to live a life of purpose, focused on His glory, and freed from the distractions that crowd into the lives of those not anchored by a relationship to God taken seriously as God. Therefore, because of all these things, the final fruit of Fearing the Lord is A FULFILLED LIFE (22:4). The reward of fearing the Lord is riches, honor, and life. The fear of the Lord is essential to setting foot on the path of wisdom that leads here. It does not mean that every person who fears God will automatically experience all the fruits we have delineated. Solomon says that the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, not the whole thing. One also needs common sense, he whole counsel of God, and His grace! But none of these avail for those who do not start here.
Well, then: if the Fear of the Lord is so important, HOW DO WE CULTIVATE IT? The answer is found in Prvb. 2:1-12. First, immerse yourself in Scripture (2:1). Second, seek God and His ways intensely therein (2:2-3). Third, make it a priority (2:4). Then, Solomon promises in v. 5, you will discern the fear of the Lord. Of course: for Scripture is the primary place where God is revealed to us in all His splendor, majesty, power, justice, and grace. And then 2:5-12 will begin to be true of us. May God make it so in our lives.
Here endeth the lesson.