Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
My pastor calls it night watch; those times you can’t sleep because the Lord has some stuff He’d like you to do. Sometimes its prayer time; i.e., allowing the Father to bring to mind certain folks and situations, and other times its just classroom victuals. Last night it was a little of both. I was up so long last night I concluded I’d surely be exhausted come morning, but amazingly, I was up earlier than usual feeling completely rested. Was it all a dream? I assure you it was not.
Help Me to Remember
I must have said that fifty times as He spoke to my heart. Several times I wanted to get up and jot things down, but I determined I could not interrupt what the Father was doing. The difficulty for me this morning was twofold: trying to recall it all (so it might make sense to the reader) and omitting personalities so as to not adulate or vilify anyone.
The gist of His impartation centered upon the doctrine of reverence. What God pointed out to me is that I rarely revere Him. Oh, I say that I do, but my actions don’t always acquiesce with my claims. It’s not that my deeds are evil necessarily, but that they do not consistently reflect a reverent attitude towards God. In other words, if I truly feared God, would I be saying the things I say and doing the things I do? God is watching and He is listening and my tendency (frequently) is to behave as if He was my high school, stoner buddy rather then the Creator of the Universe.
How it Started
This exchange with God began as I recounted five individuals that I thought I needed to pray for and forgive. I thought I needed to forgive them because I thought that they had somehow wronged me. As I poured over each case before the Lord, He led me to recognize that my legal positions were flawed. It wasn’t that these folks were innocent of the charges I levied against them, but rather the evidence to support the allegations was circumstantial at best. Are they guilty? God didn’t say. He didn’t say because their guilt or innocence was not the issue; of issue was the ‘whole duty’ of a Christian man in the light of whatever his circumstances.
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Romans 13:1
“Under the legal system I have placed you,” God was saying to me, “is not every man considered innocent until his guilt is proven?”
God was telling me that because I felt I had to forgive them I had already determined they were guilty of something. The reality is that in each situation the evidence did not support my accusation. “That,” He added, “is not a ‘God Revering Response.’”
It was beginning to come together. It’s not about how I’ve been responding to others, it’s about how I have been responding before You! So simple, yet it so profound—my response in any given situation is but an opportunity to revere God. It’s never been a matter of overlooking someone else’s behavior, but a matter of demonstrating godly reverent behavior at every chance I am given. If I fear Him, in the best biblical sense, my attitude, my actions, my responses will reflect that reverence. It’s my whole duty to God! I knew this already, didn’t I?
Understand how freeing this is. Judicial bondage must give way to mercy because mercy is the spiritual byproduct of reverence to God. We don’t revere God to obtain mercy, but nevertheless mercy is the result. And God is pleased.
The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His mercy. Psalm 147:11
Charles Haddon Spurgeon summarized the verse this way:
“While the bodily powers give no content to God, spiritual qualities are his delight. He cares most for those emotions which centre in Himself: the fear which he approves is fear of Him, and the hope which He accepts is hope in His mercy. It is a striking thought that God should not only be at peace with some kinds of men, but even find a solace and a joy in their company. Oh! The matchless condescension of the Lord, that His greatness should take pleasure in the insignificant creatures of his hand. Who are these favoured men in whom Jehovah takes pleasure? Some of them are the least in His family, who have never risen beyond hoping and fearing. Others of them are more fully developed, but still they exhibit a blended character composed of fear and hope: they fear God with holy awe and filial (befitting of a son or daughter) reverence, and they also hope for forgiveness and blessedness because of the divine mercy. As a father takes pleasure in his own children, so doth the Lord solace himself in his own beloved ones, whose marks of new birth are fear and hope.”
This is going to sound incredibly obvious, but I’m going to say it anyway: any action that does not express reverence to God is irreverent and irreverence is always a sin. If I sense a need (for example) to forgive someone based solely on what I think to be true rather than the actual facts of the case, regardless if they are guilty or not, I am in sin. Keep in mind, forgiveness is merely the vehicle by which God brought me to this place. The issue is and always will be the whole duty of man as it pertains to revering God in everything we say or do. Do we fear God? Is our behavior an expression of that fear?
What’s your God revering response (GRR); what are some of the ways we routinely express irreverence?
These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through my personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson and with my pastor at my home church, Calvary Chapel Coastlands