Healthy fear. Sounds like a sort of oxymoron, right? It’s like trying to explain to our kids today, as we all piled into the doctor’s office to get our flu shots, that in order to keep from getting REALLY sick if we catch the flu (and end up in the hospital because of it), we have to experience a moment of pain as we get the shot. There’s the fear of the needle, but then the greater fear of possibly becoming deathly ill from the thing the shot is supposed to suppress.
Fearing God is another one. God is good! There is no doubt in my mind about that. However, He is also in the ultimate seat to decide as to whether or not we suffer for an eternity or we live on in eternal joy. He knows our actions, he knows our thoughts, he knows the deepest parts of our heart. The part that we ourselves can not consciously understand. That is the part that I fear sometimes.
One of the most troublesome pieces of scripture in the bible,for me, does a good job of instilling that healthy fear. Matthew 7:21-23.
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Let’s look at that word “iniquity” for a moment, because I needed to look it up myself for a fuller understanding. It is defined as meaning from both Arabic and Hebrew translations as “crookedness, evil, perverseness, to err, to bend, etc.” So it is commonly used to express either having iniquity, guilt of iniquity or a punishment of iniquity. Not so much an action, but rather the character of an action. (Oehler)
When we do good anonymously for someone, we still hope that it brings the person joy. Whether we see the results of our efforts or not, we do an act of kindness because we want there to be a positive reaction to it. Even giving someone a smile….we hope that it will be returned because it means that that person is also feeling something positive and we ourselves feed off of it. I much prefer a gift that keeps on giving. A good act that continues to ping pong back and forth between myself and the other person.
So what about those times when my actions aren’t so kind or they fall EXTREMELY short of what God commands me to do? When I may have iniquity in my heart. That’s when that healthy fear sets in. First the knowledge of my actions and the shame of having let him down and harming those he created. Then the humbleness of admitting to my faults and asking for forgiveness. Then comes the most crucial part…praying. Praying for the wisdom to understand and to change the place where these actions are coming from. The knowledge and sight to see the twisted parts of my beliefs that don’t line up with Him and with His goodness. The sinful nature of my heart that needs to be overcome and needs to be subdued the next time a similar occasion may arise.
Not only that, but also to see the good in the negative outcome. God does not punish just to be cruel or spiteful. He allows bad things to happen in order to mold us and to shape us. It’s like threading a needle with a frayed string. He made the hole small on purpose. (I’m speaking metaphorically here…I know a needle is a man-made object.) We have to either gather our frayed edges back together or trim off the bad parts in order to navigate ourselves through the eye and closer to Him. It’s a test, so to speak. To see if we simply give up and continue to live with the hole in our jeans that just continues to get bigger until we toss them out, Or will we fight to get that stubborn thread through that small eye?
I believe that the ones that fight to get it through the eye, rather than choosing a different way to patch up the hole or choosing a larger needle because it’s easier and more convenient, are the ones who are truly trying to follow in Christ’s footsteps. The ones that really want to get closer to God and who truly have a good heart…as frayed as it may be at times. The trick is to not put off mending our holes and allowing them to grow even larger before we try to pass through the eye again.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these. Mark 12:30-31
Tags: Bad, change, evil, fault, Fear, Follow, God, Good, Heaven, Hell, iniquity, Salvation, sin
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