Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.
There’s a speech in the movie “Wall Street” where Gordon Gekko says “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works.” His point was simple. Man’s greed is what advanced civilization over the years. Greed, in his words, “has marked the upward surge of mankind.” Now there is an ounce of truth in what he said. Greed has advanced civilization, but I don’t think God would agree that greed is good. Making America a super power in the world in part by stealing land from Native Americans and part by enslaving thousands of Africans was not right or good. God looks at our motives and he cares about the means as well as much as the ends.
So all of that is prelude to the verse on fear. I’m going to steal from Gordon Gekko’s speech and make it better.
Fear, for lack of a better word, is good. Fear is right. Fear works.
When I first heard about “fear of the Lord” I thought it was an odd concept. After all, the Lord is supposed to be loving and caring. Why fear someone that is looking out for your best interests?
To me the answer comes by observing the family that I grew up in. My father is a very loving, caring, gentle man that spoiled us kids and went out of his way to make us feel special. On the other hand, he’s 6’5″ and well over 250 lbs. and when he was upset at us, his voice would boom like thunder. The thing is, he was only upset with us when we did something we shouldn’t have. He had to dicipline us because he loved us and he wanted us to learn right from wrong. How loving would he have been had he let us do whatever we wanted? How messed up would we have been had we had no discipline? So fearing my father led me down a path of trying to do the right thing the right way. I didn’t always succeed, but I had that firm base teaching to fall back on.
Same goes with the Lord. He is the Almighty God. There is no measure of the greatness of Him and there is no question that he hates sin. Read the Old Testament and tell me He isn’t ruthless when He wants to be. Consider the way Jesus treated the merchants in the temple and the Pharisees. Read Revelation. I heard a man speak once who had read the Bible cover to cover several times a year and he said the one message that kept coming through was this: “God doesn’t mess around.”
But He doesn’t throw His weight around needlessly. He does it for a purpose. He wants to discipline us when we need it. He wants us to be righteous in His eyes. He wants us to know that even if we think we know it all, we really don’t and we really need Him. God is to be feared because He loves us. A healthy fear of the Lord is a blessing. Fear is good.