A Healthy Fear – Joshua Vaughan

Growing up in the church, I was always taught to fear God. But today, that fear looks a lot different than it once did.   I used to think of God in the same way I thought of a mean school teacher—someone who punished you every time you did something wrong. It was hard for me to feel like God would ever accept me because I wasn’t good enough for Him. I was always messing up and afraid that God was about to break me.   When I finally began to understand the truth of the Gospel, I realized that I needed to take inventory of my life. I knew I was a sinner and had not truly accepted Jesus as my Savior, and that day, the fear of God became really real to me. I knew that there really was a right way and a wrong way to live; I also that there was a Heaven and a hell. It became clear to me that if I died that day, I was going to hell.   That’s when I discovered how God’s grace covers us.   “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” —Romans 3:23-24   We are all still going to sin, it’s in our nature. But Christ died for us so that we would no longer be guilty and eternally punished because of that sin. That day I realized that even though I had messed up and will keep messing up, God has adopted me into His family because He loves me. Knowing the true grace of Christ gave me more freedom and joy than I had ever experienced, while also filling me with a healthy fear and reverence for God as the all-knowing and all-powerful Creator that He is.   We should have a healthy fear of God. In Scripture, we see God’s voice described as roaring thunder (Job 37.2), we see Christ appearing as lightning (Matthew 24:27), and all people bowing down before God to worship Him (Revelation 14). We have to remember Who it is that we are talking to in our prayers—Who it is that we serve. I don't ever want to take what Christ has done for me for granted. Daily I need to remind myself of the power of the Almighty God so that I maintain the right perspective, but I also need to remember and focus on the grace and love that He has for me. It’s hard for me not to be too hard on myself sometimes for thinking I’ve let God down with all my sins, but I know His grace is sufficient.   God knows our hearts—He knows when we are diligently seeking Him. I picture that reality in this scene: A coach has a team full of players and one player who is working really hard to do all he can to play his best. When that player messes up the coach is going to be more willing to look past the players’ fault because he knows his heart. He knows the athlete has the desire to improve and please his coach. But when another player is blatantly ignoring the coach’s instruction and rebelling from the team, the coach will be much less tolerant to that player when he messes up.   “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” —1 Samuel 16:7   Our Father expects us to faithfully obey Him but He doesn’t leave us to do this on our own. God sends His Holy Spirit to guide, lead, convict, and discipline us. And Scripture tells us that God disciplines those He loves so that we can produce fruit for His Kingdom and find joy the fulfillment He brings.   “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastens everyone He accepts as His son.” —Hebrews 12:5-6   When I do mess up, I know that there will be consequences for my actions, but I also know that God’s grace covers my sin— He chooses to remember my sin no more. Instead of remaining in guilt and fear, I can look forward to how God will help me learn from and overcome that sin in the future.   When I am in the center of God’s will and I know that I’m obeying Him, I find true fulfillment. Though there are times when it’s a real fight against the flesh to do so. For instance, there are days when I really don’t want to read the same book to my son for the twelfth time that night but I know it means the world to him and it’s pleasing to God.   By living with a healthy fear of God, putting yourself aside, and obeying His guidance, you find the joy of Christ filing your heart. And that joy is contagious, spurring both yourself and others on to act in further obedience.   —Joshua Vaughan   Joshua Vaughan is a regular contributor of The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.   Check out Joshua’s Increase profile here: https://theincrease.com/author/josh-vaughan/        If you enjoyed this article, please share: