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Continue in the Fear of the Lord

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Do you ever find yourself envying those around you? Perhaps life is not going the way you want so you start comparing your life to other people’s. We don’t have to be taught to envy. It is something that comes as naturally to us as breathing. Children from the time they start playing and interacting will envy the toys other children have and will often do whatever it takes to get that toy. Even adults will often do whatever it takes to get what they want. Taking for granted what they have already been blessed with. Even if that means stabbing a coworker in the back, or neglecting their spouse or children.

 

Proverbs 14:30 says, “A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones.” I love how descriptive that verse is. The picture of rotting, decaying bones is a graphic one. But that is what envy does. It causes decay and destruction. It is a dangerous road that only leads to bitterness. It is a cancer that will eat away at your joy and contentment.

 

“Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day.”

(Proverbs 23:17)

 

We have all envied someone at some point in our lives, but admittedly I have found myself envying those who aren’t even living the way they should. It is not that I envy their sin, but I look at their lives, and despite their sin, they seem to be so fortunate and have everything going for them. Life seems so easy and uncomplicated for them. In my human mindset it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t seem fair. Why don’t I have the “desires of my heart” when I am striving to live a godly life? As if my good works are enough to earn the favor of a holy God.

 

Consider two very important things. First, that everything in this life is temporary. All of the material things we strive after, the career we so wholeheartedly pursue, it will all pass away. “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14) As that verse clearly states, our time is short. We should not be wasting it trying to accumulate things, money or status. Why put so much stock into possessions that will not matter in eternity?

 

Secondly we must remember what Romans 6:23 warns, “The wages of sin is death.” So no matter how wonderful your life seems on this earth, if you don’t confess and repent of your sins and don’t accept Jesus’s free gift of salvation, your sentence is death. In essence, we should not take our actions lightly. Don’t envy those that do not know Christ as their Savior! Instead, remember what their eternity will look like compared with their life now. That should be enough to motivate us to witness and be an example to them.

 

One problem with many Christians today is we do not properly understand what the “fear of the Lord” means. I think sometimes we have the mindset that it is cowering in fear of a tyrannical God. But I love how it is so clearly defined in the book, The Practice of Godliness by Jerry Bridges.

 

“The Bible uses the term ‘fear of God’ in two distinct ways: that of anxious dread, and that of veneration, reverence and awe. The Christian has been delivered from the fear of the wrath of God. But the Christian has not been delivered from the discipline of God against his sinful conduct and in this sense he still fears God. For the child of God, however, the primary meaning of the fear of God is veneration and honor, reverence and awe. It is the attitude that elicits from our hearts adoration and love, reverence and honor. It focuses not upon the wrath of God but on the majesty, holiness, and transcendent glory of God.” (pp. 25-26)

 

Our purpose in this world is not to see how many material things we can collect, how far we can climb the corporate ladder, or to see how popular we can become on social media. Our purpose is simply this: “Fear God and keep His commandments.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13) We so often mistakenly try to place our identity in things. Such as what kind of car we have, how big our house is, etc. But that is not why we are on this earth. It should not be our focus. We are such a distracted people. We are a generation with a fidget spinner in one hand and an iPhone in the other. It would be beneficial to put down the phone, laptop, tablet, etc., and not only get back into the Word of God, but perhaps just sit and talk to your Heavenly Father. Refocus your heart on what your purpose on this earth is.

 

We must also keep in mind that our reward is eternal. Honestly, we may do good things in this life and not see any reward until we get to Heaven. I know of a few people right now who do so much good for other people, they sacrifice themselves daily for the benefit of helping others. And yet, it seems they are constantly bombarded with struggle and difficulties. It would be easy for them to get discouraged, but I know that their focus remains on their heavenly reward, not on man’s praise. That heavenly reward will be so much greater than anything we could hope to get in this life. We must remember this as we see others who may appear more fortunate than us. Our God gives as He sees fit, but more than that, the most important thing in this life is not your possessions. It’s your relationship with Jesus Christ.

 

It is so easy to get our eyes off of the blessings of our own lives and become distracted by how other people seem to coast through life. But as Proverbs 23:17 commanded, “. . . continue in the fear of the Lord.” Remain in awe of the God who has done so much for you. Who continues to do so much for you on a daily basis. And most importantly, gave His life on the cross for you!

 

 

AUTHOR - Bethany Gray