READ: Proverbs 1, Mark 5, James 2
We choose to fear the Lord (Prov. 1:29). We often limit reverence to something demanded by God. While it is true that the presence of Jesus can stun us into submission, it is also true that the will of man has a part to play in actively giving respect. Just as we choose whether or not to respect our elders, we can choose whether or not we will honor God. In this age we have the opportunity to choose reverence. We will not always have the choice. On that great and terrible day of the Lord, every knee will bow. We choose whether or not we will listen to counsel, whether that of the Lord, our elders, our friends, or our followers. When we choose irreverence (the un-fear of refusing to listen to counsel), we will eat the fruit of our own way, be filled with our own fancies, and be slain and destroyed (vv. 31-32). When we choose fear (reverence), we are safe and secure without fear of evil (v. 33). When we choose to respect the Lord, we can disrespect evil with impunity.
Choosing to fear the Lord, choosing to listen to Him, makes no allowance for selective hearing. Only doing some of what God instructs is just a subtle form of disrespect. God’s law is not broken (or kept) piecemeal (James 2:10). We either keep the law or we don’t. God’s truth is not a cluster of grapes, where one small aspect can be disobeyed without affecting the others. God’s truth is like a soap bubble or a balloon–if we prick it with one pin of disobedience, we are guilty of destroying the whole thing. Thanks be to God that mercy triumphs over judgment (v. 13), and we can be completely forgiven when we stumble and are guilty of irreverence of the whole law.
Choosing to fear the Lord makes no allowance for believing the right things without acting on them. James writes, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble” (v. 19)! Demons are monotheistic. The devil knows/believes there is only one God. To believe some things about God and reject others is irreverent insult. To believe there is one God and to reject the deity of Jesus is to choose to un-fear God; it is to choose to insult Him. Islam is in direct rebellion, flagrant disrespect of the God of heaven and earth, and the monotheism of Islam is offensive to the one God who is Father, Son, and Spirit. Christians cannot gloat on this point, for those who believe without acting on their belief are as rebellious as those who believe partially. Let us not offend God by choosing to disrespect Him. Let us choose to fear the Lord and let it be expressed by constant obedience, continual repentance, and complete compliance to His counsel.