Something that has been on my mind a lot lately is how to go about making wise decisions that are based on God’s will. How do I obtain wisdom? A verse that came to my mind while thinking about this was proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (NKJV) So if the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom then I probably can’t expect to have wisdom without it. Before I start asking for wisdom I need to make sure I actively fear the Lord, as this is, after all, the beginning of wisdom.
So what is the Fear of the Lord?
I used to think that fearing God meant that I should be scared of Him. This never seemed right to me. Then one day when I was reading proverbs I came across a verse and it all made sense to me. That verse was Proverbs 8:13 and it says “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.” I had never read this verse before and I had never seen or heard the fear of the Lord so perfectly defined. I had a clear answer. The fear of the Lord is to hate evil. It’s as simple as that. Well not quite…
Hating evil isn’t simply some feeling we have toward sinful things it is an action. In the Bible Job is referred to as a blameless and upright man who fears God and shuns evil (Job 2:3) Job actively feared the Lord by shunning evil. The definition of shun is to “persistently avoid, ignore, or reject (someone or something) through hatred or caution.” This paints a better picture of what it really looks like to hate evil. Hating evil and “shunning” it as Job did takes persistence, rejection, and caution. The Bible says that a prudent man foresees evil and hides himself (Proverbs 22:3). Interestingly enough, prudent is simply another word for wise. You can’t just say that you hate evil; it has to be reflected in your life through your daily actions. It is a constant battle that requires diligence and caution.
Don’t be fooled. Hating evil doesn’t mean that you never sin. What it means is that when you do sin, it breaks your heart and causes a deep sense of regret. Paul talked about this very thing in Romans 7. He talks about the fact that although he desires to do good and please God, evil is warring in him. Paul refers to himself as a wretched man.
Think about the following synonyms of the word wretched: worthless, shameful, vile, and inadequate. That’s pretty intense! I have to ask myself, when I sin and allow evil to control me do I absolutely hate it? Do I think of myself as a shameful, worthless, and vile person like Paul did when he sinned? Honestly, If I don’t I have to question whether or not I truly hate evil and fear the Lord. If this is the case, I can’t expect to walk in the wisdom of the Lord. (Keep in mind, its not about condemning yourself, its about painfully regretting sinning against God. Thankfully He is a God of grace who offers us forgiveness and mercy when we do screw up.)
Proverbs 3: 7 makes this clear saying, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil.” If I take God’s Word literally, and I do, then this confirms that without the fear of the Lord I will be wise in my own eyes. This honestly scares me to death. Am I willing to hate and turn away from evil so that I can live a life that pleases God, that is guided and directed by His wisdom rather than my own? If so, I need to take an honest look at myself and determine whether or not I truly hate evil, whether or not my heart breaks when I sin against God, and whether or not I actively seek to hide myself from sin.
One important thing to remember is that we are often unaware of our own secret sin. We not only have to hate the obvious evil, but the intimate and secret evil we hold onto tightly. This is why self-awareness is, in my opinion, one of the most important skills to obtain, and will be the focus of my next blog.
Thanks for reading, please share your thoughts below!