March 5

Therefore keep the commandments of the Lord your God, by walking in his ways and by fearing him. Deuteronomy 8:6 

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it.  2 Timothy 3:14 

In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses laid out the rules of God, and they are still true for us today, they’re also repeated many times in the Bible, in multiple verses, in the words of several different writers.  To say it simply, God asks us to love and care for others as we would want to be treated ourselves (Matthew 7:12) and to love God with all our heart and all our soul and all our mind (Matthew 22:37).  In fact, that’s exactly what the book of Deuteronomy goes on to tell us in chapter 10: And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,  and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?  

How much more clearly can God be giving us this lesson to learn by heart?

Still, for me it’s the verses (as in Deuteronomy 8:6, above, and elsewhere) that talk about fearing God that are a stumbling block to me.  Isn’t God loving and forgiving? Why should he want us to fear Him?  The word fear is negative, among it’s synonyms are anxiety, panic, dread and agitation, not words I would associate with my faith. The phrase “fear not” appear in the Bible multiple times, but then again, there are many people in the Bible who are described as being afraid, whether it’s the appearance of God coming to them in the form of a whirlwind, or someone running away from their responsibilities that God has required of them.  

So I did some more thinking and I went back to an open tab on my computer where I had searched the definition of fear. At the bottom was something I had missed before – after the word archaic (meaning old-fashioned  and out of everyday use), reverence, venerate, respect.  

Some sources that I found do use the word fear more literally, saying that the fear of God’s punishment will keep us from sinning, that sin leads to death, and that God wishes for us to live a life without sin. I feel more inclined, that God loves us either way, that he forgives all our sins, and as humans, we are sinners. I’m not a parent, but I would think parents want their children to be good because they want to be good, not because they are afraid of the punishment for not being good. I believe God is that loving parent, sending us into the world with a daily reminder to make good decisions and treat others as we would want to be treated.  

Loving God, loving parent, may our love for you extend outward into the world to love others. Help us to be good people and your servants, not out of fear of punishment for our sins but out of respect and reverence for you and that through this we can show others your love for the world. Let us sing your praises even in the darkest times and praise your name above all others. Amen 

Peace,

Lynda Tysdal