Practically all brethren know that fear God means revere or respect Him, but I wonder if we have given proper attention to reverence. In the Greek, phobos meant panic as in flight from battle; or, the opposite of courage; or, awe, reverence — the feeling of one in presence of an infinitely superior be- ing. The question is, do we truly rec- ognize Gods presence, and feel this reverence?
Reverence for God is obviously the child of faith — believing we are in the presence of the ultimate superior being. Man may feel an intimacy, a closeness (as child for father) with such a being; but there could never be familiarity in such a relation. A “Hi, Dad!” attitude, most charitably con- sidered, shows a lack of appreciation for the true nature of God. Paul charges sinners as having no fear of God before their eyes (Romand 3.18).
“Fear” of God keeps man reach- ing for higher goals, for ideals; keeps him living in the shadow of eternity. We “sojourn” through this life as we “seek” a country (1 Peter 1.17). When Christ is “Lord” in our hearts we tes- tify of our hope “with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3.15).
Gods presence imparts to the true believer an awareness of accountabil- ity and judgment. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holi- ness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthi- ans 7.1). In God’s presence saints “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2.12).
We are not pleading for externals: for “quietness in the church building” or “cathedral” voice tones. True rev- erence is within, and although it is reflected in behavior, we can not put out what we have not put in. Too much stress on the demonstration for demonstrations sake can only make us greater hypocrites. God desires “goodness, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt- offerings” (Hosea 6.6).
“Fear” (in its bad sense) is cast out by love (1 John 4.18); but awe, respect, and reverent “fear will” ever mark those in His presence (Revelation 1.10).