When I was on a prayer call with a friend this week, she mentioned that she was needing to make an important decision, but she didn’t want her decision to be influenced in any way by fearing how people would view her decision. I’m so glad that she is conscious of that and is watchful for that. The fear of our peer’s opinions is a trap we must watch out for—daily.
It’s important to understand what it means to “fear the Lord” because if we’re not functioning under an active practice of fearing God—we will be making decisions driven by other fears. Below are a few that are a common struggle:
Fear of People: failing people, not being accepted, or not pleasing people
When fear of people motivates our actions, it can cause us to make foolish or even dangerous choices. How many children are bullied by other children who are trying to impress the crowd? They are motivated to please the popular group, so they do cruel things to weaker children.
A teen who desperately wants to fit in or be accepted, will make choices based on the fear of not being accepted. They will be under that pressure and it may lead to trying alcohol, drugs, or other dangerous activities they would never prefer to do, but their fear of not having friends is what is driving them, rather than a healthy fear or awe of God.
A woman that feels she’s no longer important to her teen kids, may resort to doing silly things, dressing in ridiculous clothes, or acting juvenile, in the attempt to become their “buddy” as a means of gaining their approval.
You may not struggle with impressing your children or your peers, but maybe you struggle with speaking truth to a friend, or sharing the gospel with someone you know is lost, because of the fear of being disliked or seen as a “Jesus Freak” and that fear shuts you up.
Fear of Loss: There are many fears in this category, related to “losing” something . . .
Fearing Loss of Finances: Can lead to unethical activities, greed, hoarding, even stealing. The “reverent” woman, or the woman who lives under the fear of God, will make choices that honor God rather than unethical decisions out of fear.
Fearing Loss of Comfort: Can lead to laziness, compromise, or sinful indulgence.
Fearing Loss of Relationships: Can lead to unbiblical choices in friendships or dating relationships.
Fearing Loss of Youthfulness: Can lead to depression, a sense of worthlessness because of aging. This fear can result in making financial choices to attempt to regain an unrealistic “youth” that’s unattainable. This fear can lead to selfish “mid-life-crisis” choices: seeking out a romantic relationship from high-school years, or a younger season in life.
Fearing Loss of Control: Will lead to a domineering attitude, angry explosions, or manipulative actions to try to hold people or circumstances in your power. In contrast to that, when the fear of the Lord rules your heart, you recognize that He is the only one with the right to control and that allows you to hold all things loosely.
Learning to live in the fear of God is a protection and blessing. As we live in the fear of God, it protects us from living in fear of lesser things.
This is why the characteristics of the Titus 2 woman must begin with a heart of reverence. All the rest will flow from a heart that fears God.
It was so important for us to lay the foundation of “sound doctrine” a few weeks ago; that is how we know what God expects of us, how we understand what God is like, but in order for us to live out sound doctrine, we must lay on top of that knowledge, the action of fearing God.
That is who a reverent woman is, a woman who lives in the awareness of the sacred and functions in the fear of the Lord.
Now that we’ve looked at what it means to “fear the Lord,” tomorrow we can move on to the next instruction from Paul to older women: “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers . . .”
So, note this:
Whatever fear is driving us will be revealed by what we say.
This is the fourth week in our summer study using Nancy Wolgemuth’s book: Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. This week’s posts includes my teaching notes for the session from our church’s women’s study, but instead of unloading it all on you in one SUPER LONG post (like last week), I’m dividing it up in five days with the homework portion below:
Homework Assignment: In order to stand in awe of God, to have a sincere reverence for Him, we must recognize His position of authority and His power. To fear Him doesn’t mean we are in terror of Him as though He would be cruel, but it is to recognize His holy perfection and our total unworthiness to stand in His presence. We could not come into His presence were it not for the work of the cross.
As you think about the concept of fearing God today, read through these verses: Exodus 20:20; Job 28:28; Proverbs 1:7, 9:10, 31:30; Psalm 111:10; Revelation 15:3–4. (Continue reading Adorned pages 91–128.)