Where Wisdom Begins Reflections
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
In word we’re uncomfortable with the idea of fearing God. We defend Him as One whose love is so great He needs not be feared. As 1 John 4:18 says: “Perfect love drives out fear.” So we redefine fear as “awe” and “reverence.”
Yet the Scriptures use the term “fear of God” frequently enough to give us the impression that something more than awe is appropriate.
It is the kind of fear that terrified the dis- ciples when they heard God’s voice at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:6); that overwhelmed Isaiah when he cried out: “Woe to me! . . . I am ruined!” in God’s presence (Isaiah 6:5); and that drove John facedown at the sight of the glorified Son (Revelation 1:17).
Why does a God of love tell us that wisdom begins when we fear Him? Because when we approach the Holy One with a casual familiarity, we are not living in reality.
We do not take Him as seriously as we ought, and we do not take our sin as seriously as we ought. Fear—not of punish- ment but of the overwhelming greatness of God—sees Him correctly.
When we stand on the edge of the vast, bottom- less chasm that separates us from Him, and we behold the immeasurable expense He paid to bridge that chasm, we experience fear.
Fear of what would have been if we had never known the gospel. Fear of our own unworthiness. Fear of the absolute dedication to Him that is now required of us.
When this fear grips us, we begin to understand the enormity of the gospel and of our God. That understanding begins to rearrange our lives. And that is what wisdom is all about.
It is vital that we know God’s love and rest com- fortably in it. But a true understanding of God’s love begins with an overwhelming awareness of His greatness, holiness, and power as they contrast our own sinful nature.
There is nothing more fear-inducing than that. But this is where we must begin. This will shape our self-awareness, our relation- ships, our work, our prayers—everything we think and do. It will make us wise.
Chris Tiegreen is an award-winning author of more than 50 books and discussion guides that have been translated into more than 30 languages and read by more than 5 million people worldwide.