(Extract from the book Discipleship by Rev. Georges Defay)
In ministry and as Christian believers, there are some motivations to avoid and others to cultivate. God’s Word clearly describes what kind of motivations to cultivate and the most important ones are: the Fear of the Lord, Love, and Divine Rewards. Though this is not an exhaustive list, it does cover the primary motivations for a disciple of Christ. One has to always remember that “God is the One who judges the heart and He shall judge all according to the hidden thoughts and deep sentiments thereof” (Hebrews 4:11-13).
a) The Fear of the Lord
As it is for most biblical concepts, the fear of the Lord is one that is most misunderstood. Scripture teaches us not to confuse the fear of the Lord with simple fear. Simple fear is an emotion that accompanies the realization of danger or threat. The fear of the Lord is not a state of intimidation, terror and disarray caused by God, but full confidence in God, implying the hatred of evil. This concept has its origin in the Old Testament and its meaning throughout Scripture remains the same. The Bible defines the fear of the Lord as the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). In Proverbs, Solomon, inspired by the Holy Spirit, differentiates the fool and the wise in this fashion. The fool, he says, despises wisdom and instruction, while the wise shows a different attitude. This heart attitude of deep reverence for God, for divine instruction and wisdom constitutes “the Fear of the Lord.”
– The Fear of the Lord: a must to receive divine revelations
This attitude is necessary to receive revelation of God’s plan and purpose. It is the first step to access “God’s science”, i.e.: God’s wisdom, intelligence and knowledge. The 19th Psalm reveals the importance of the Fear of the Lord as a motivating factor for ministry in this manner. “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is thy servant warned and in keeping of them is great reward (Psalm 19:8-12). The Fear of the Lord is listed here with God’s law, His testimony, His statutes, His commandments and His judgments. These constitute the expression of His perfection (Excellency). Now, let us consider the attributes given to the Fear of the Lord. It is pure and enduring forever, as are God’s love and mercy. This motivation can cause a disciple to “transcend times and make of eternity its dwellings.” The fear of the Lord has its root in the knowledge of the person of God. A true revelation of who God is will cause reverence and respect towards Him and all that pertains to Him.
-The Fear of the Lord in the Ministry of Jesus Christ
Any real study of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ will uncover the profound influence of the Fear of the Lord. Isaiah made the following prediction concerning the Lord Jesus “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse and a branch shall grow out of his roots; and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of “the Fear of the Lord”; and shall make Him of quick understanding in the Fear of the Lord; and He shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears; but with righteousness shall He judge the poor and reprove equity for the meek of the earth…” From these verses, we see that the Fear of the Lord was to be a very important factor in Christ’s ministry. By writing “and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord…” Isaiah revealed the very foundation and life of the Lord’s ministry.
– The Fear of the Lord, Source of Discernment and Wisdom
The Hebrew translation of “understanding” in the above passage also means scent, smell and breath. The Fear of the Lord was to Christ what smelling and breathing is for the human body. The Fear of the Lord kept Jesus alive and healthy by preventing Him to fall in the devil’s snares and traps. In the fear of the Lord, then “The Rod of Jesse” (Jesse is David’s father) received and understood revelation knowledge to walk in the spirit. Jesus did not judge according to the flesh, nor did He speak according to hearsays. He knew “the flesh” could not apprehend divine truth. Jesus’ ministry was then completely spiritual and pleasing to God. He was not about self and personal ego, as He proclaims:” My doctrine is not mine but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory; but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true and no unrighteousness is in him. Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:16-24).
Without the ability to smell, one is unable to distinguish between spoiled and fresh fruit. The sense of smell allows discriminatory identification of clean or dirty objects. Even without a complete visual, one can discern unmistakable scent of putrefaction, decay and burning material. The sense of smell can prevent touching or ingestion of rancid food and can also warns us of dangers like fire, gas leaks, and toxic chemicals. Now, spiritually, the Fear of the Lord does the same thing for us. It helps us to detect evil and makes us aware of the works of the flesh and of the devil. Similarly, speaking wisely in a manner to glorify God is an expression of the Fear of the Lord. Becoming God conscious will result in godly conduct and sound speech. The reverence or deep respect for God becomes the guide of what one says or does. Any thought, speech, and act will effectively become an opportunity for God to be glorified. Thus, Jesus defined his method of operation, in those terms, “I can of my own self do nothing, as I hear I judge: and my judgment is just because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me(John 5:30).
– The Influence of the Fear of the Lord in Apostle Paul’s life and ministry
Paul describes the influence of the Fear of the Lord in his life this way “Knowing therefore the terror (fear) of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God… For we command not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory in our behalf that ye may have somewhat to answer them, which glory in appearance and not in heart” (2Corinthians 4:11-12). Like Christ, Paul acknowledges the Fear of the Lord as the motivating factor of his ministry and makes it clear that to trust in the flesh is foolish, but to trust in divine revelation is wise. Through the Fear of the Lord then, he received knowledge, as he wrote: “Wherefore, henceforth know we no man after the flesh; yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now, henceforth, know we him no more… For he hat made him, who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2Corinthians 5:16, 21).
– The Superiority of God’s Wisdom
Paul revisited this concept in his letter to the Galatians. Contrasting human wisdom and traditions with divine wisdom and revelation, he wrote: “For do I now seek the favor of men or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But, I make know to you brethren that the gospel, which was preached by me, is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. For ye have heard of my manner of life in time past in the Jews’ religion how beyond measure, I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it; and profited in the Jews’ religion, above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, to reveal his Son in me, so that I might preach him to the Gentiles, immediately, I conferred not with flesh and blood” (Galatians 1:10-16).
Here Paul acknowledges the superiority of God’s knowledge and wisdom. Once divine revelation is received, there is no need to consult with man, but time has come to act on God’s will. Paul exhorted the Galatians believers to persevere in good works, and to the Philippians he wrote “Wherefore, my beloved, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God, who worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmuring and disputing, that you may be blameless and harmless, children of God without rebuke” (Philippians 2:12-15). Paul shows how the Fear of the Lord, produces adherence to God’s will. Disciples become God’s children without blemish in conduct or reproach in sentiment, and even as Jesus, they would be able to say “I can of my own self do nothing, as I hear I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father” (John 5:30).