(Reflections on Prov 9:10)
If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, is the fear of man the beginning of foolishness?
In my own attempt to live out the Gospel, I constantly fight the fear of man. I am reminded, however, that fear is fundamental to the Christian faith. Not the fear of man, of course, that centers around self, but the fear of the Lord that centers around God and His Gospel.
At the root of the fear of the Lord is a humility before almighty God that He is the Creator and we are His creation; He is in charge and we must obey. At the root of the fear of man is pride before almighty “me” and a need to defend oneself, saving face at all cost. Fear of the Lord evokes awe-filled wonder of God, even genuine fright, like that of the “undone” Isaiah. Fear of man stands in awe of the smart and the talented, and seeks to be made in their image. Fear of the Lord promotes right worship of our King positioning our heart to approach the throne of grace with boldness. Fear of man invites man worship wherein mere creatures become our idols and attemps to please them occupy the bulk of our time and energy.
It is foolishness to walk about crippled by what others think, and decide what to say by the impression it will make. The fear of man puffs up to the point that men are sure to wrap an arm around their wives during the closing prayer of corporate worship, but never lead in prayer at home, and blinds to the degree that moms will dress their daughters in the trendiest jeans and jewelry, but never consider adorning them with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.
The fear of the Lord, however, is the starting place for a life of wisdom. It breeds humility, hard work, discernment, patience, perseverance, love for others, kindness, and joy. The fear of the Lord thinks first of others and how to serve them. The fear of man thinks first of self and plans how to sacrifice others to get ahead. The fear of the Lord recognizes the value of creation and remembers the sacrifice of Christ.
This is the way in which Christians are to walk. It is not the way that seems right to man, for that way leads to destruction. But rather, it is the way that leads to life–wisdom’s way. So, walk this way. And, where to begin? In the fear of the Lord.