By Merv Budd
In my previous post, I talked about how fear needs to be stewarded wisely, like any other limited resource. But how will one know if they are stewarding their fear towards the only One who is worthy and deserving of moving this deep of our hearts? I’m always a bit wary of lists that seem to systematize mysteries, yet there can be benefit in examining what Scripture says about the fruit of fear that is properly stewarded. Perhaps you can do a self-inspection and see if your fear is properly ordered:
1. Properly stewarded fear produces quietness:
From heaven you pronounced judgment, and the land feared and was quiet (Psalm 76:8).
The practice associated with godly fear is quietness and stillness. A busy culture, a busy schedule, a hurried pace and impatient heart are signs of the absence of the fear of the Lord. When we fear God aright we will be still and silent, waiting on Him, in awe of Him, acknowledging our creatureliness and letting our words be few.
2. Properly stewarded fear strengthens faith:
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40)
Jesus says that the disciples fear of their circumstances was evidence of their lack of faith. It seems that where ungodly fear is present faith is weak. Great faith is evidenced by great courage. It seems that faith and disordered fear are unable to coexist. Where there is fear, there is room for more faith.
3. Properly stewarded fear has an undistracted focus:
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:30-31)
The story tells us that Peter, seeing the waves became afraid and then began to sink. Doubt and fear partner to undermine strong faith which has its eyes fixed upon Jesus. Where are your eyes focused? We will always watch what we fear most.
4. Properly stewarded fear increases in wisdom:
The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them (Psalm 25:14).
Quite simply: insight, wisdom, discernment of the times, knowledge—these come to those who fear God. Yet, godly fear is not simply a gateway into gaining more knowledge it is a gateway into intimacy with God. The knowledge He gives, is confided with us.
5. Properly stewarded results in obedience:
But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart (1 Samuel 12:24).
See also Deut. 6:13, 10:12, 20, Joshua 24:14, 1 Sam. 12:14. It is quite amazing how often the command to serve God is preceded by the command to fear him. It is an axiom of human nature that we will always bow our wills, and follow with our actions, before that which we fear most. Obedience towards the will of God, be it that will which we find in Scripture or that will impressed upon our hearts by His Spirit, will be evident in those who have rightly ordered their fear.
Of course, is much more that could be added to this list, but I hope that it quickly becomes evident that such things as quietness, faith, focus, wisdom and obedience are not tangential to engaging the mission of God and this requires that we start by more consciously and deliberately stewarding our heart’s fear aright.