Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever! (Deuteronomy 5:29, NASB)
What does it mean to fear God? From scripture, it seems that fearing God is something other than being terrified of Him, and something more than simply respecting Him.
Whenever you want to understand God’s will for our lives, look to the example of Jesus. This is how Isaiah described Him over 700 years before His birth:
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
And He will delight in the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:2-3a, NASB)
Read the gospels, look at Jesus’ life, and you’ll see what it means to fear God. Jesus responded to His Father wholeheartedly, completely, constantly. He trusted Him. He revered Him. He obeyed Him. He lived for His Father alone. For Jesus, His Father was the ultimate reality, the ultimate source, the ultimate goal.
In short, Jesus treated God as God. That is what it means to fear God. That is what the Old Testament refers to when it repeatedly says:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
(Proverbs 9:10, NASB. See also Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10; Prov. 1:7; 15:33)
Jesus taught His disciples not to fear evil, or persecution, or Satan, or death. There is only one thing in all creation that God’s children need to fear:
“I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has the authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:4-5, NASB)
If we fear the Father as Jesus did, if we treat Him as God, if we trust that He is all-powerful, all-wise, and all-loving, why should we ever be anxious or fearful about anything that life or death can hold?
God has given us the freedom to
fear only Him.