Proverbs 1:7 (AMP) The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] is the beginning and the preeminent part of knowledge [its starting point and its essence];
But arrogant fools despise [skillful and godly] wisdom and instruction and self-discipline.

January is the time of year when we often make New Year’s Resolutions or begin a new Bible reading plan (often starting with Proverbs), or we participate in the 21 Day Daniel Fast, or we simply live like nothing has changed. It is either because we think that something magical resets in us on the first day of the new year, or we simply don’t care. In all honesty, nothing happens unless you are intentional. Only when you put God first will lasting change occur.   

When I think of reverentially fearing the Lord, I often think of the parable of the talents. This is what Jesus had to say:

Matthew 25:14-30 (MSG) “It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money. After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’ The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master’s investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’ The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’ “The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’”

Reverentially fearing the Lord means not taking His love for granted. The gifting and the light He has given them will not be hidden away. However, the fear that the third servant displayed was not grounded in His love. It was grounded in the fear of punishment. This love is twisted and perverse.

1 John 4:18 (AMP) There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgment] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love].

I find it amusing that when you point back to the Word and point out what the character and nature of God is, you are labelled as judgmental or callous. I want to help you rethink the issue with compassion. The rejection I feel resembles digging out a deep root that is part of my self-worth. It’s digging up the roots of “not being wanted.” I have to remember the second part of the top verse: “arrogant fools despise [skillful and godly] wisdom, instruction, and self-discipline.” I never want to be associated with arrogance, but confidence is sometimes mistaken for arrogance. Where does the differentiation occur? Pride! Confident people are humble. In contrast to an arrogant person, a humble one will accept correction. Arrogant people believe that self-control restricts freedom. In humility, self-control is understood to be the fruit of love that is rooted in reverent fear of the Lord.

Where did you decide to begin in 2022? My goal is to increase my knowledge of the Word of God, not just attain, but also put it into practice. When I am not a doer of His Word, what good is knowing the Word? I let the apathy around me keep me from being Christ’s hands and feet. In my reading of Matthew 24, verse 43, the scripture says, “But understand this: If the head of the household knew when the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.” I had to repent and tell God that I was sorry that I had let the thief rob me of what I desired. As a result of allowing the thief to steal away my joy in serving, I had to repent. God’s Kingdom is too important for that.

Let’s welcome the second month of 2022. If you didn’t start it with intention, you don’t have to wait until January 1, 2023 to do so. You can start right now. If you fall down, get back up. The intent is what matters, not the perfection. Let’s be intentional this year!

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