“God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.” – Psalm 89:7 (KJV).
On March 4, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his inaugural speech. With the nation in the grip of the Great Depression, Roosevelt’s speech was awaited with great anticipation. Millions of Americans tuned in to listen to how he would respond to the crisis. The speech is less notable for its specific proposals but rather the iconic maxim coined by Roosevelt: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Roosevelt was speaking to the “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
The Bible says that we need to fear God. But it is not the fear that President Roosevelt was talking about. The Bible is talking about the type of fear that has a reverence for God. Reverence has a respectful attitude that reveals affection and esteem for that person. A kind of awe: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29, NIV). During this Christmas gift-giving season, do you give the gift of reverence for God? Does it impact how you address Him, refer to Him, and worship Him?
The question is worth asking in a culture that casually refers to God as “The Man Upstairs” or my “Big Buddy.” Reverence for God is elevating Him far above a mere euphemism. We cannot even begin to comprehend the full extent of the glory of God and His greatness. He is our Creator, our King, Savior, and Lord. He is worthy of our awe and our reverence.
In the Bible, we are frequently instructed to reverence God, which can also be phrased as “honoring” or “fearing” God. First Samuel 12:24 says: “But be sure to fear the LORD and faithfully serve him. Think of all the wonderful things he has done for you.” Psalm 2:11 ( NASB) says, “Serve the Lord with reverence.” And rejoice with trembling.” In Psalm 5:7 (NASB), the Psalmist proclaimed, “But as for me, by Your abundant graciousness I will enter Your house, At Your holy temple I will bow in reverence for You.” Hebrews 11:7 (ESV) tells us, “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” Hebrews 12:28 (ESV) tells us to worship “with reverence and awe.”
May we truly grasp that the Savior, God’s Son, entered the world during this Christmas season. We need to stand in awe of the mystery of the story of Christmas. We must display reverence when we read the Christmas story and see what God is doing and will do in our lives.
God’s love for us is awe-inspiring. He sent Jesus Christ to die in our place. This sacrifice and willingness occurred while we were caught up in our sins and concerned with ourselves. To people living in today’s culture, this is almost incomprehensible. After all, why would someone sacrifice and love without anything in return? God’s mercy and love, great and awesome, is not conditional like the love we are familiar with; it is perfect. He deserves our reverence.
- What does reverence toward God mean to you?
- How do we show our reverence to God during this Christmas season?