‘The fear of the Lord is life; he who is full of it will rest untouched by evil.’
(Proverbs 19.23 Revised English Bible).
These days a lot of people react against the phrase ‘the fear of the Lord’—motivated, I guess, by bad memories of fire and brimstone preaching. But I notice that abandoning the fear of the Lord hasn’t helped us abandon fear. We fear the bad opinion of our Facebook friends, and crave their ‘likes’ and comments. We fear the rejection of our friends, and sometimes say and do things that aren’t really true to us, in order to win their approval.
To ‘fear the Lord’ means, first, to recognize that in a relationship between the One who made and sustains everything that exists on the one hand, and little me on the other, God is definitely the senior partner. And secondly, it means that we choose whose good opinion matters most to us. In the long run, what God thinks of me is infinitely more important than anyone else’s opinion. So, to use a phrase I once heard on this subject, ‘We choose to play our life to an audience of one.’
When we do this, the psalmist says, we discover ‘life’. By this he doesn’t mean that we will receive life as a reward in the future. He means that in playing our life to an audience of one, in this life, we discover here and now that this is what life is all about. We discover a sense of freedom and joy that we never thought possible. May this be so for all of us today.