“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” ~ Proverbs 1:7
Tom Landry once said, “A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you always knew you could be.” The Spirit-filled life built on a foundation of godly wisdom is much like what Coach Landry described to his team. As many of us know, not every man is coachable. Not every man is teachable. In the world of sports and free enterprise, coaches and managers will cut athletes from a team or release employees from staff if they do not submit to the authority and direction of their coach. Thankfully, as Christians, we aren’t at risk of being “cut” from the team.
As Solomon taught us in Proverbs 1, wisdom must be requested. Wisdom must be received. Wisdom must be applied. It’s actually a relational model that Solomon used in Proverbs 1:7 when he said, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” The relationship that we have with our ultimate coach—God—should be rooted in fear. Fear? Yes, fear! We must have a healthy fear of God if we are to achieve all that He has in store for us in this life.
We often like to think of God as a loving, gentle, benevolent overseer for our time here on Earth. While God is indeed gracious and merciful, He has also set boundaries for us in every aspect of our lives. Are we allowed to do anything we want to? Yes, actually, we are. At the same time, the Apostle Paul instructed in this way, saying, “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify” (1 Corinthians 10:23). He also wrote, “You are not your own, for you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19b-20). Life is about boundaries, and we need to live our lives with a holy respect for the righteousness of God, knowing that while God is indeed loving and patient, we should never test His patience by pushing His boundaries. It rarely works out in our favor.
Do you have a holy and respectful fear of God? What stops you from doing things you know are inappropriate or improper? When temptation comes knocking at your door, how do you discern God’s way from the enemy’s way? We hate to think of our Sovereign Lord as someone to fear. We hate to think of the judgment that is to come. Yes, Jesus described Himself in this way: “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:17). At the same time, as professing believers ascribing to the authority of Scripture, we must have a healthy foundational fear of God, knowing that our fear of Him provides a shield of protection. When we voluntarily walk beyond His boundary, we might experience painful consequences—even physical death.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be coachable. I want to be teachable. I want to be a lifelong learner—especially when it comes to things of God. In that case, I pray that God’s Word always speaks to me in such a way as to reinforce my respectful fear of Him so that I have wisdom and that I experience His absolute best for me on this side of heaven. As Solomon said, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). In Proverbs 9:10, Solomon also said that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Wisdom sanctifies. Wisdom satisfies. Wisdom is second to none in the Christian life—and it all begins with a healthy fear of the Lord.
Questions for Thought
- Are you coachable? Are you teachable? Are you willing to learn? If you don’t have a submissive spirit, pray that God would soften your heart and turn your gaze toward Him through Scripture and prayer.
- As men, we are taught to be fearless, to be independent, to be self-sufficient, to be providers, take charge, and to be leaders. At the same time, those characteristics and qualities do not always translate into a healthy respect and fear for God. How can your life better reflect all of these honorable characteristics while also being rooted in a healthy respect and fear for God?
God, I come before you with a grateful heart. You have sent your Son, Jesus, to die for my sins. You allow me to be reconciled to you through the completed work of Christ. Please teach me how to have a respectful fear of you. I need your wisdom. I need your instruction. I am thankful that I have your Scripture to serve as my guide. Help me to receive and apply your Word. Thank you for seeking to bless me in all areas of my life. Help me to clearly see the boundaries that you have set for me so that I can bring you glory, praise, and honor. As a man, I want to have all of these godly characteristics and qualities, but only if they serve you within the boundaries you have set for me. Thank you for your patience when I fail you. Thank you for your loving grace and mercy. May other men see you through me and be drawn into a life with you—not because of me but because of who they see within me. I love you, Lord! In Jesus’ name, Amen!
Jeff is the Adult 2 & Men’s Minister at First Baptist Dallas. One of his favorite things about First Dallas is the Sunday School environment because that’s where a big church becomes small and where people find community. Jeff and his wife, Sheri, have adult children. In their spare time, Jeff and Sheri host the MetroSouth Community Group, and they enjoy walking their dogs and cooking dinner for friends in their home.