Reading: Leviticus 19:10-18,25-37
"Fear God and keep His commandments;
for this is the whole duty of man" (Eccl 12:13)
Fear is a powerful force that motivates us to obey. Noah feared God and obeyed Him to build an ark. If he had not obeyed, he would have got destroyed with others in the flood (Heb 11:7). Fear has two components, one negative and the other positive. Fear of punishment is negative. Fear for the person is positive. The negative thing is the worry of consequence. The other one is reverence for the person. For God-pleasing obedience both the dimensions are important.
a) Negative fear
The first lessons of obedience are usually learnt in the school of negative fear. When God gave Adam a commandment about the tree of knowledge, He warned him, "In the day when you eat of it you shall surely die!" (Gen 2:17). Parents show the cane or threaten their children, "I'll kick you if you do it!" Teachers warn students they would fail if they don't work hard. While counselling youngsters, King Solomon wrote, "Fear the Lord and depart from evil" (Prov 3:7b). Why does a nation become corrupt? Why do communities collapse in morals? Why does the world embrace evil? Why is sin tolerated in the Church? Loss of fear of God is the underlying reason (Gen 20:10,11).
Fear of God comes from the knowledge that nothing can be hidden from Him (Heb 4:13). It was this knowledge that made Joseph flee from temptation (Gen 39:11,12).
b) Positive fear
Understanding "who" commands us makes obedience easy. Reverential fear for God stops arguments and rebellion in our minds. See the introduction to the Ten Commandments: "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage" (Ex 20:2). Then follow the commandments. "Therefore, You shall... You shall not..." and so on! Not only for the Ten Commandments, but also whenever God gave His people important laws and regulations, He prefaced them with the statement, "I am the Lord!" (Lev 19:10,14,16,18).
Peter knew how risky it was to attempt to walk on water. But he ventured because he knew who called him (Mt 14:24-29). Even when we don't know who calls us, we run to the telephone the moment it rings! Many times it will be a wrong number call!
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