The term ‘fear God’ is one of the most popular sayings in churches today. What I mean is that in almost every church you go to you’ll hear ‘fear God’ in some context. But does God really want us to fear him. I remember growing up when I’d done something I shouldn’t have been doing I’d feared the arrival of my father from work. I only felt this fear when I’d done something I shouldn’t have, other than that it was more of a respect for the authority he was given due to his position in our household. So what’s the difference? The word fear brings on a negative connotation that the word respect does not. Fear implies a negative repercussion while respect gives an authority figure that which is due them, good or bad. You respect their ability to…
This brings us to an interesting point. What if we replace the word fear with the word respect in the bible where it’s in reference to God. The word fear may still be applicable in some cases as in Daniel feared the mouth of the hungry lion. While respect could apply fear would be more accurate.
But let’s look at this idea where God is concerned. ‘Respect the Lord in all your ways’ means something different from ‘Fear the Lord in all your ways’. The latter implies that we’ve done something wrong when maybe that’s not what the scripture writer was trying to say at all. If we’re always fearing the Lord then we’re telling ourselves to prepare for the consequences. But if we’re respecting the Lord then we’re considering his feelings on the matter before we make a decision, see the difference.
So, by putting the ‘fear of God’ in somebody we’re telling them they’ve done something wrong prepare for the consequences. But by putting the ‘respect of God’ in somebody we’re making them think before they act. One is to avoid consequences the other is to please God by respecting his wishes.
Sometimes respect is brought on by fear as in the case of teaching a child not to touch fire. We say DON’T TOUCH THAT! which instills a fear in them. That fear helps them understand that fire is to be respected, touching it has consequences, respecting its power helps us avoid those consequences. Play with fire and your going to get burned. Respect the fire and learn to use it to cook, get rid of trash, clear an area or even form a fire break. The power is still there but when respected, that power helps us avoid the consequences, or getting burned.
I don’t want a god I have to fear, I’d rather have a god I can respect.