My Personal Christian Blog

Thanks for sliding into my blog site. This blog bog is a spin-off from my website at Call me a Night Owl, as my full-time mission and hobby are jabbering from midnight until 8 a.m.ish with chatter bugs across the world. Hoot, hoot! Being a retired newspaper guy and a Curious George, I've written and assembled a whack of stuff that I hope you'll find interesting and thought-provoking. Check out the Stories bar on the right side, below, for all my articles - from my web site and this blog.

June 11, 2011


By Paul Tatham

Fear is a word that crops up quite often in Scripture.

It usually takes one of two forms — one has a positive connotation and the other a negative connotation. The former can be found in verses such as the following:

• “Fear the Lord, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth” (Joshua 24:14).

• “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10).

It usually refers to having a reverential awe toward God. We gaze upward on a cloudless, moonless night, for instance, and marvel at the sheer expanse of the universe and the supremacy of its Creator.

We may even find ourselves humming the chorus, “How Great is our God.” This kind of fear is positive. It’s kinder, gentler.

The other form of fear carries with it the meaning we typically associate with the word — the trembling, knee-knocking, nail-biting variety. Examples abound throughout the Bible:

• “That they may learn to fear Me . . . and that they may teach their children” (Deuteronomy 4:10).

• “That they would fear Me, and keep all commandments always, that it might be well with them and with their children forever” (Deuteronomy 5:29).

• “That thou might fear the Lord thy God, to keep all His statutes” (Deuteronomy 6:2).

• “Fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all His ways” (Deuteronomy 10:12).

• “If you will fear the Lord, and serve Him, and obey His voice” (I Samuel 12:14).

• “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling” (Psalms 2:11).

• “You, even You, are to be feared. Let all those round about Him bring presents to Him that ought to be feared” (Psalms 76:7, 11).

• “Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, that walks in His ways. This is how the man who fears the Lord shall be blessed” (Psalms 128:1, 4).

• “The Lord takes pleasure in them who fear Him” (Psalms 147:11).

• “By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil” (Proverbs 16:6).

• “Do you not fear Me, says the Lord? Will you not tremble at My presence” (Jeremiah 5:22)?

We hear a lot about the first kind of fear, but not so much about the second. Somehow, over the last 40 years or so, the latter has become politically incorrect and a topic that seems too harsh for our sensitive ears, even for evangelical churchgoers. Someone might be offended, after all.

This negative version of the word “fear” refers to the dread, the apprehension, that should engulf someone who would reject Christ as Savior or dare violate His commands.

And when it is “working” properly, fear serves to keep many of us from stepping out of line. So a healthy fear of God, and the consequences that await us if we displease Him, is actually — as Martha Stewart would say — a good thing.

Now granted, for a Christian to obey God largely because He carries a big stick might not be the most noble of motives. But I can live with it. Just as I can live with a person who hears a hellfire sermon and, as a result, bows in repentance at the foot of the cross.

Some folks are wired to respond more out of a hand-wringing fear of God’s Hell than of a heart-warming promise of God’s Heaven.

True fear can be a great motivator. It can drive us to Christ in the first place then play a preventative role — keep us from sin once we are saved. Moses said to the Israelites under his command, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin” (Exodus 20:20).

Sadly, in some cases it is only when we are gripped with fear that we respond to God at all. In Romans 3, Paul describes unregenerate man. After several verses describing mankind’s wayward ways, he sums things up by declaring, “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (v. 18). A person who does not fear God is unlikely to ever stop and consider what He has to say.

The fearless person is headed for trouble. The person who does not fear snakes usually gets bitten. The person who does not fear automobile accidents usually has one. The kid who does not fear his parents often ends up in trouble with the law. The teenager who has no fear of his teachers frequently ends up being suspended or expelled. An absence of fear leads to problems.

Because fear — the negative side — can so often be an agent for good, let’s not “fear” to use it. God’s Word certainly doesn’t tiptoe around it, and neither should we.