Fear of the Lord as Spiritual Maturity
January 25, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
With the start of the new year, perhaps you have taken stock of your spiritual well-being. Am I growing? What does growth look like? Am I ensnared by any particular sin? Who helps me fight the good fight? What is my goal; for what am I aiming? What does spiritual maturity look like?
These are healthy questions we all need to ask of ourselves on occasion. This line of questioning is a part of what Paul implies when he says, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves” (2 Cor. 13:5).
The last two weeks I have been addressing these questions through the lens of our mission statement: longing to know and make known the astonishing grace of God. I proposed that Christ is the center of that longing, and so, giving us both the goal (know & treasure Christ) and the means (growing in our knowledge and love of Christ). The banner over our new year at Oak Hills is Treasuring Christ.
The Bible speaks about spiritual maturity and spiritual growth in other ways as well. One of those ways is found in Psalm 112, where the psalmist exclaims, “Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord!” This immediately follows Psalm 111:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” The fear of the Lord is a measure of spiritual maturity and growth. Let’s consider what this looks like from Psalm 112.
- The person who fears the Lord loves Scripture. The first statement about this person in verse 1 is “who greatly delights in his commandments!” The commandments of God are the revelation of God’s will and desires for his people. To fear and respect God is to love his designs for one’s life.
- The person who fears the Lord is blessed. Verse 2 says, “his offspring will be mighty,” and verse 3 says, “wealth and riches are in his house.” Is this a health and wealth gospel promise? Not exactly. The Old Testament is full of stories of godly men and women who feared the Lord and yet did not enjoy material wealth. This language speaks about contentment. This person has been blessed by God with spiritual plenty so that no matter what material circumstances they endure, “wealth and riches are in his house.” Compare with Paul’s statements of contentment in Philippians 4:11-13.
- The person who fears the Lord has been empowered for virtuous living. Verse 4 says, “he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.” Verse 5 says he “conducts his affairs with justice.” Fearing the Lord is not so much a duty as it is a disposition. To fear the Lord is to be in a posture of humility and reverence before the Lord. God blesses that disposition with his grace (cf. Prov. 3:34) and this person grows in virtues like grace and mercy and righteousness and justice.
- The person who fears the Lord is stable. Verse 7 contains an amazing statement, “He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.” The one who fears the Lord has anchored his soul to the Rock, the Fortress, the Deliverer, the Refuge who is God (cf. Ps 18 & 46). Man and the threats of man become small in comparison with the God who reigns over everything.
- The person who fears the Lord is generous. Verse 9, which Paul quotes in 2 Corinthians 9:9, speaks about this generosity, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor.” Generosity springs from overflow. The person who fears the Lord has been blessed by God to overflowing. And this does not mean materially (consider the example of the Macedonians in 2 Cor. 8:1-5). Generosity becomes a nature disposition of the one filled by the fullness of God.
Test yourself. Do you fear the Lord? Do you see the evidences of fearing the Lord in your life? In what ways can you grow in your fear of the Lord?