***I recently was presented this list of 14 Marks of a Wise Woman and I instantly felt overwhelmed. I want to be all these things! To glorify God by being wise and discerning. To honor God in my attitude, the way I speak, and how I react in difficult situations. In this series, I will be exploring each of these 14 Biblical virtues (please also see proverbs14verse1.blogspot.com, which is the source of this list), in order to find ways to apply these principles to my life in practical ways. I hope you will join me!***
See other articles in this series at my Christian Living category page.
1. Fears God
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
‘Fears God’ is a great #1, because we’re also told in both Proverbs 1:7 and Psalm 111:10, that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
What does it mean to fear God?
Let’s be careful here. I think in a lot of cases, we dismiss the idea of fearing God to be a reverence for God. Okay, I can understand that. But, it’s a dangerous place to be. Because how many of us really are reverent? I think we have a false sense of security or arrogance about our access to God. Yes, we are now able to communicate to God ourselves, we no longer need a priest or prophet like in the Old Testament times. But we still need Jesus, who is our mediator. He is the only way we can get to the Father. And it is a privilege, not a right.
And taking the idea of reverence one step further, I believe it can be likened to being in awe of God’s majesty. Or the issue I’m trying to pinpoint is the lack thereof. When was the last time we fell on our knees and said like the prophet Isaiah, “Woe is me, I am a man of unclean lips!” when contemplating the majesty of our Almighty God? Something to think about.
Assuming fear simply means reverence also leaves some holes. If God wanted us to interpret the word fear for reverence, I’m sure He would have used a word that meant reverence. Since the word FEAR is used hundreds of times in the Bible in reference to fearing God, I think we should look closer to other possibilities. R.C. Sproul, of Ligonier Ministries, writes of Martin Luther and his approach to different types of fear. In summary, the fear of God is not the fear of a slave to a cruel master. But as a child fears his father. The child loves his father, respects him, trusts him to provide security and love. It’s more of a fear of displeasure or disappointing the one he loves – the child isn’t afraid of being tortured (we’re thinking this is a healthy family relationship here…). This is how our relationship with God should be. However, Sproul ends the article with another great point, “If we really have a healthy adoration for God, we still should have an element of the knowledge that God can be frightening. ‘It is a frightening thing to fall into the hands of the living God’ (Heb. 10:31). As sinful people, we have every reason to fear God’s judgment; it is part of our motivation to be reconciled with God.” I think it can be summed up with, in our desire to fear the Lord more, we need to comprehend more of His greatness and become more dependent on Him.
How can I fear God as a Christian?
In order to be in a place where we look on God as the child looks on his father (mentioned above), we need to have a relationship with our Father. And that includes deepening our understanding of God, primarily through better awareness of His presence. As Christians, we are still sinners, so our natural inclination is to pursue the sinful desires of our hearts, not the things of God. So in a practical sense, this means that we need to make conscious efforts to seek God and His word. We need to pray like the Psalmist David, “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” (Psalm 86:11). Some practical ways we can put God’s majesty before us and focus on fearing God:
- An easy one is nature. Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon, or Niagara Falls – someplace like that? You know that feeling that takes your breath away and leaves you speechless? That’s what we’re talking about when we say ‘be in awe of God’. And you probably aren’t hanging too far over the edge, because you have a healthy fear of what could happen if you do. It’s beautiful, but you fear it too.
- You can feel awe and express reverence to God by respecting His Word. And you can’t know what’s in it to respect it, unless you are constantly reading it!
- We can learn by the lives of the people who encounter God in the Bible. There is a wonderful list of examples at iblp.org, just scroll down to the heading Learn From Scriptural Examples.
- Jump into the refiners fire! Don’t make Him drag you! You are a sinner, so it’s inevitable that there are things about you that must change. Don’t hold onto your sin kicking and screaming as God takes it away from you. Seek to be changed and ask God to show you areas in your life that you need to surrender to Him.
- Tithe. Deuteronomy says that we need to tithe not only to support our local church, but to learn the fear of the Lord! (Deuteronomy 14:22–23)
- Remember who you are. As a Christian, we have been called to fear God. Solomon, at the end of Ecclesiastes, which is full of wisdom, says “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man…” (Ecclesiastes 12:13–14). AKA, yes, all this other stuff matters. But here is the main point: fear God because it’s the whole purpose of why man was created and put on this earth.
How can I fear God as a wife?
The first and most obvious answer is that I can best fear God by adhering to the principles He lays out in the Bible that are specific to wifedom. And honestly, that’s why I’ve created this series, to discover all the ways I can be a wise woman that glorifies God. So stayed tuned for the other 13 virtues! But I digress.
So it’s getting more personal now. And I think that’s important. It’s all good and fine to say that we should make more trips to the Grand Canyon, but what about the everyday and the mundane, when it’s just us after a long exhausting day? Using the same principles as above, it’s becoming more and more aware of God’s presence. Of seeing that I am serving Christ through the actions of serving my husband. That I am loving Christ when I show love to my husband. And so on and so forth.
One big one in my life is when my husband expresses a concern he has with one of my sins. And it’s usually in the midst of the sin. Like a hurtful comment, a bad attitude, or frustration at a situation beyond my control. This is a lived-out example of the refiners fire. God is using my husband to change my heart, one gentle rebuke at a time. But how do I feel when it is happening? Angry, self righteous, deflated, defeated? So a goal I will have is to be kindly receptive to my husband in times when what he has to say about my actions is hard to swallow, because I was doing something hurtful and he called me out on it. Because I will give an account for those actions one day. Before an Almighty God. So my husband is really extending loving kindness in rebuking me. And I need to be grateful.
That’s just one example. Can you think of any of these specific situations in your life where you can better fear God as a wife?
How can I fear God as a mother & keeper of the home?
I can start by filtering the opinions of other mothers or women who discourage my efforts as a mom and keeper of the home. Maybe I should rephrase that… I should be seeking God’s council and the council of Godly women to advise me in the areas of motherhood and my home. Not Facebook groups or the ladies at the gym. I only want my circumstances to be shaped by the One who has called me to this role. So I can put His commands first, and let go of all the other stuff. There is nowhere in the Bible that says I need to have a Pinterest worthy house, or a child who can walk and talk by 8 months (thankfully, because it’s not, and he can’t!). So I need to keep the important things in mind. And more often than not, I am focusing on a clean house, and not a clean heart. So this needs to change.
Also, in a practical day to day sense, if you’re a stay-at-home-mom or a working mom, you know that it’s hard. It’s the best thing you’ve ever done, raising a child, but it’s hard. And your mind isn’t always firing on all cylinders. For me, the biggest struggle is that I simple don’t think about God (this is a scary realization!). And how can I fear Him if He’s not even on my mind? So I have been making very conscious efforts to put Him in the forefront of my mind. Am I tempted to compare myself to that other mom who seems to have it all together? Just say Jesus. Do I want to throw my hands up in frustration because I can’t keep up with a messy floor, a sink full of dishes, and responding to those email/phone calls? Remember that Christ died so that I would never have to succumb to the feelings of failure. Do I selfishly (and wrongly) get upset at my husband when he is taking a break and I am still working after our son goes to bed? Jesus died for that sin too.
Here are some of my simple strategies for [attempting to have] success in this. Put sticky notes where you work. Are you at the sink more than any other place in the house? Put a note on the window. Do you rock your baby to sleep in a rocking chair? Have a piece of art that reminds you of who Jesus is on the wall to look at.
Try to talk more about Jesus with your family. Even (especially!) when it’s awkward. I still feel awkward when I say things like ‘you have 5 toes because God made you that way – isn’t He great?’ outloud. Because of course He did, and of course it is. But how else will my son learn? And I’m making more a conscious effort to speak about God with my husband. In the car, while we sit on the couch, working out in the garden. His glory is evident everywhere, we just need to open our eyes and acknowledge Jesus with our lips.
Lots to think about.
What about you? Do you have any suggestions for how you can fear God more in your life?
See other articles in the series at my Christian Living category page.
This post is linked to A Wise Woman link-up.