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Psalm 11

 

In the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, "Flee like a bird to your mountain, for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?" The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord's throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. The Lord tests the righteous, his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face. (ESV)

The Fear of God Before Our Eyes

Aquila, Priscilla, Apollos 

13 February 2015

Some years ago my oldest daughter told a teacher that the thing she feared most was to do something to dishonor her father. When I heard this I was at first taken aback, but after I thought about it some more, I realized that this was worthy goal on the part of my daughter. It could not be the whole of our family code of honor, certainly, but it was a good place to start. I had not planned for my daughter to adopt this viewpoint, but I was glad that she had. Those around us, like parents, teachers, siblings, friends, fellow church members, and coworkers all provide barriers of both honor and shame in our lives. This is the life we live over against our neighbor. On the positive side, we desire to honor those whom God has sent to us to give us love and direction. On the negative side, we desire never to incur shame in the presence of those people who love us and want only the best for us.

 

As a father, I am only a cipher for my daughter's heavenly Father; I merely stand in for God in the world as a father and parent. There are many deficiencies in my parenting if compared with the parenting of our heavenly Father. But parents are not to be honored and feared only for their competence, but because the Lord has placed them into their office as parents, as Luther says in the Large Catechism: "Parents are not to be deprived of their honor because of their conduct or their failings. Therefore, we are not to consider who they are or how they may be, but the will of God, who has created and ordained parenthood" (LC 1, 108). We are to honor and revere our parents, and even fear them, because God is to be honored and revered, and even feared (SC 1.1).

 

If parents provide that shame and honor barrier to inappropriate and sinful behavior, our heavenly Father is all the more such a barrier. If we would not want to bring shame or dishonor on our parents, how much more is that the case when we know that our heavenly Father is present with us at all times. This is a fearful reality that we would prefer to forget. We must maintain the fear of God before our eyes (Rm 3:18). We should desire not to dishonor the God who has loved us so passionately as to take our dishonoring of Him and place it upon His only begotten Son. He who was always with His Father got, not the fattened calf and a party with His friends (Lk 15:29-30), but instead was offered up in our place to restore us to the Father's household, without even a hint of malice toward us, whom He restored. He took our shame away and perfectly honored our Father in our place. So let us not idle away the time the Lord has given us under the righteousness of His, but let us keep the fear of God before our eyes.

 

 

John Chrysostom

 

"Let us clearly keep before our eyes the fear of God. For nothing, surely nothing, so ruins a man as to slip from this anchor, as nothing saves so much as continually looking toward Him. For if by having a man before our eyes we feel more reticent to sin, and often we keep from doing anything amiss through feeling ashamed in the presence of employees of a better kind, consider what protection we will enjoy by having God before our eyes! For in such a case the Devil will not attack us, in that he would be laboring without profit. But should he see us wandering away, and going about without a bridle, by getting a beginning in us afterward he will be able to drive us off anywhere he pleases. This is like the careless servant who is shopping. He leaves the required tasks which his master has entrusted to him, and rivets himself upon mere chance meetings, and wastes his free time. We also do this when we depart from the commandments of God. For quickly we get standing around, admiring riches and personal beauty, and the other things which we have no business doing, just as those servants pay attention to juggling beggars in the streets.

 

Many pass the road set before them through following others, who are behaving in the same inappropriate way. But let not us so do. For we have been sent to take care of much urgent business. And if we desert that, and stand gaping at these useless things, all our time will be wasted in vain and to no benefit, and we shall suffer the extreme of punishment.

 

John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 4

 

Prayer

Dear heavenly Father, we are to fear, love, and trust in You above all things. We fail miserably in this without Your Son. Keep us in Him, who has honored You above all others, so that being found in Him on the last great day, we might be brought into perfect fellowship with You. Amen.

 

For all Christian clergy, that they might be strengthened and upheld under the discipline of the Lenten crosses

 

For all military personnel who are stationed in harm's way, that God our heavenly Father would protect and support them in the midst of trial and temptation

 

For the members of the Council of Presidents, that they might be kept safe as they travel home and that their homecomings would be joyful

 

For those who are suffering inclement weather, that the Lord would keep them safe 
Art: AERTSEN, Pieter  Adoration of the Magi (c. 1560)

 

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