by Tony Leman
Recently, I watched the livestream funeral service for my old high school Principal, Mr. Bruce Murray who had achieved much in his 82 years of life! He had represented New Zealand for cricket at the highest level, was happily married to wife Shona, had four children and 11 grandchildren, and taught history and social studies at high school level as well been a well-respected high school principal. Whilst principal at the high school I attended, he implemented a new motto for the school, “Do Justly” which is still spoken and encouraged in the school to this day!
One memorable event I took away from his life was the stand he took when playing for the New Zealand cricket team, to not play on Sunday for religious reasons. Although Mr Murray did not understand the Truth of the Bible in the way God’s Church does, he did understand that he was accountable to God and had a higher authority that he needed to obey. This brought respect from other players at the time. In fact, one eulogy given during the funeral was spoken by an ex-New Zealand cricket representative who played with him on the team and he clearly articulated that he had a desire to please God in the way he lived his life. He certainly left a legacy for his family, friends and all who came to know him, because he had a sincere fear and respect for what he understood the Bible instructed and for the one Who inspired it, God.
Put simply, Mr Murray displayed Godly fear in his life. Godly fear is critical if we want to be truly successful in life and leave a legacy for others. God inspired Moses to record an important detail in the second record of the 10 Commandments in Deuteronomy 5 that Moses was not inspired to record in Exodus 20. Notice what is written in Deuteronomy 5:29: “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!” God yearned for His people to have the right sort of fear (which I will break down soon in this article) so that ultimately it might be well with ancient Israel and with their children forever!
What then is Godly fear? There are two key aspects.
The first aspect to Godly fear is to have an awe and wonder of God, His majesty, His incredible creativity and imagination with His creation, and that He even desires to have a personal relationship with YOU. King David profoundly exhibited this aspect of Godly fear when he wrote: “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” (Psalm 8:3-4). This aspect of Godly fear is especially developed and highlighted when keeping the Feast of Tabernacles. “And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always” (Deuteronomy 14:23).
The second aspect of Godly fear is the respect and appropriate concern one should have of doing the wrong thing when God has given a command not do it. The prophet Jeremiah displayed this when he wrote “O LORD, correct me, but with justice; not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing” (Jeremiah 10:24). We need to develop this sort of respect and fear because God will require an account of our life (Ecclesiastes 3:5; 1 Peter 4:5) and his memory is so good that Jesus Christ mentioned when in the flesh that God requires an account for “every idle word men may speak” (Matthew 12:36). In other words, God has the ability to recall and bring up any detail done or said in our physical life and require an account from us about it in the day of judgment.
This should therefore produce fear and respect for God because WE WILL all in the future have to stand before God and HE WILL reward each one according to His works, both for those in the first resurrection (Matthew 16:27) and for those who come up in the second resurrection (Revelation 20:13). Indeed, as King Solomon’s wise parting words in the book of Ecclesiastes stress, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). Youth, enjoy your life that God has given you, but remember your Creator (Ecclesiastes 12:1) and fear Him always for those who fear God WILL be praised (Proverbs 31:30)!