That the readers of these lines are children of God, we firmly believe. The unbeliever finds no delight in the things spiritual and looks elsewhere for his reading material. As children of God the readers of these lines then also confesses that they fear the Lord.
Yet we live in a world of superficiality and of great temptation and in a time when the material things are increasingly crowding out our spiritual activities. We so easily assume the habits of the world and practice their evil works. We so easily let the world set our styles and determine our behavior in a hundred different ways. The speech and way of speaking of the world soon becomes ours, and the antithetical, distinctive life of the fear of the Lord is almost lost. We fear the Lord, indeed. But we hardly find time to practice it. The fear of the Lord is our confession, but is it our life? Are we living it? Is our fear of the Lord anything or very much more than a knowledge with the head? Is it simply a knowledge of the truth which leaves us cold and indifferent, or is it a knowledge which is manifested by all that we practice?
It is reported that a very daring man once walked across the deep chasm of the Niagara River at Niagara Falls on a wire cable that was stretched across this chasm. Not only did he walk across on this wire cable, but so it is said, this man with a perfect sense of balance and ‘‘nerves of steel” pushed a wheelbarrow across ahead of him. Having completed the round trip before the eyes of a mystified audience, he asked of those who had witnessed the feat how many of them believed that he could do it again, this time pushing a man ahead of him in that wheelbarrow. Hands went up all around showing that the owners believed that he could do this. But when he asked for a volunteer to come and ride in that wheelbarrow, not a man came forward. That kind of faith they did not have. Is that somewhat of a picture of our fear of the Lord? We believe in Him. We say that we trust Him for all things material and spiritual. We confess Him to be our God and Savior. Yes, but are we living in His fear? Is our walk of life such that others plainly see that we fear the Lord?
The child of God does live in His fear. The beginning of that new life is small, but there most assuredly is a beginning in every regenerated child of God. Since it is present in all the readers of these lines, we would like to call their attention to this matter of living in His fear. In this new series of articles to appear under the general heading of “In His Fear”, we would like to pen down a few scattered thoughts in regard to living in His fear with the hope that it may spur us on to a sanctified walk and recall to our minds things that have to do with the fear of the Lord which so easily escape our attention as we are swept along with the current of this present age which is a very evil one.
Betrayed by our speech
In this first installment dealing with living in His fear we would like to call your attention to the fact that our speech very definitely betrays us. It shows very clearly whether we are living in His fear or not. You are aware of the fact that Peter’s speech betrayed him in the palace of the high priest. When he denied Christ and insisted that he was not one of His disciples, he was told that his speech betrayed him as one out of Galilee. Here of course it was not the contents of his speech that revealed his true relationship to Christ. It was the form of his speech. It was the way he pronounced his words. If you will, it was his brogue. Ones way of speaking does betray one and indicates either his nationality or the section of the country in which he lives.
The same is true of the contents of our speech in the spiritual sense. The contents of our speech will reveal whether we are living in the fear of the Lord and to what degree we are. Our speech will reveal whether we are citizens of the kingdom of heaven or not and how loyal we are as such citizens. Our speech shows what is in our hearts and minds, and therefore our speech very definitely betrays us and reveals whether we are living in the fear of the Lord or not and to what degree.
Thus taking the name of the Lord our God in vain betrays one as not living in the fear of the Lord ne d hardly be remarked. It is a clear violation of the expressed will of God and surely manifests no fear of reverence and respect at all.
Yet how much is there not of this taking of God’s name in vain to be found also among us? Daily papers, magazines and even radio programs are full of it. We hear it so often and read it so frequently that it almost finds a place in our way of thinking and expressing ourselves. Sometimes this is the case to a very great degree. Or else we invent similar sounds that begin with the same letter or letters. “Gee, Gosh, Golly” fall off our lips as necessary words to emphasize our statements. Our very attempt to impress others with our veracity by the use of such expressions is an admission that at least at times our words are not trustworthy. Similarly we find the need of “Christmas” or “Christopher”. Then there are those words which refer to God’s attributes used in expressions such as “Holy smoke”, “Good gracious” and the like.
These are not pleasing in God’s sight. These as well as the more bold use of the name of God literally shows disrespect and irreverence rather than the fear of the Lord. He who fears the Lord will use His name very delicately. He who fears the Lord stands in awe before Him. He will not misuse that name, nor will he invent all kinds of ways to duplicate the sins of the world with similarly sounding words. You who are reading these lines, does your speech in this respect betray you?
But it was not our intention to write about the violation of the Third Commandment at this time. We have other speech in mind which betrays the old man of sin within us and which is not showing the reverence due His name. We so easily borrow the speech of the world and many expressions which we would call “atheistic expressions” find their place in our daily speech. We speak of “luck” and “being lucky”. We speak of “Providence” and “Nature” when we are speaking of works which the Lord Whom we fear has performed. In the same way we speak of “accidents” and of unavoidable accidents. Now it is to be conceded of course that Jesus Himself speaks of “chance” as in Luke 10:31 in the well-known parable of the Merciful Samaritan. Likewise is it true that the word “accident” can have favorable connotation. But only too frequently does our speech in regard to that work of God which we call an accident reveal that we do not see the hand of God in it and that for us it is simply something unavoidable or something that just happened. This is even more plainly manifested in our speech wherein we speak of “luck” or our being “lucky”. There is no such thing as “luck”. All things come to us according to the decree of God. Even our substitution of the word “fortunate” in the place of “lucky” does not really give expression to the fear of the Lord. We seem so afraid or loathsome to recognize God and His works. Is it because we do not really recognize these things as His work, or is it that we are afraid before others to confess His name and our faith in Him? At any rate whichever is the case such speech betrays one as not living in the fear of the Lord in that act of his.
He who fears the Lord has deep respect for Him. He stands in awe before the Lord and every work of the Lord which he beholds, whether it be in the sphere of the spiritual things he receives from God and sees about him or whether it be in the material things of this earth where God shows His hand, power and wisdom, he who fears the Lord sees God’s glory therein. And living in God’s fear he will praise Him for these works. To attribute the works of God to a blind Providence, to an impersonal Nature, to luck or any other thing is to show disrespect for the Lord Who has done these things. He who has been spared through some dreadful disaster or peril of one kind or another, if he is living in the fear of the Lord, will not declare how lucky he was. After the pattern of the saints of old who lived in God’s fear, he will speak of God’s goodness and mercy. The very least he can say and still utter the speech of the fear of the Lord is to declare that God has seen fit to spare him from this peril. There is no fear of the Lord expressed in the statement that one is “lucky”. There is no fear in such an expression such as this, “nature provides a solution for the problems of creation.” The fear of the Lord speaks His praises also before the world in spite of the mockery it will suffer.
Then there is also what we would call “filthy” speech. Such speech is to be found only too often right in the home before the children. We mean by filthy speech what the world calls “dirty, immoral speech.” That there is filthy speech found in the mouth of the world is to be understood. The heart of the world is filthy. That it is in the heart of the church is due to the fact that the old man of sin is with us till death. But he who fears the Lord will fight against it and keep a close watch of his tongue.
Such speech does not belong on the tongue of those that fear the Lord. They stand in awe before Him. They are eager to be pleasing in His sight with thought and word and deed. It is their desire to bring their children up in (His fear and that the words of their mouths and the meditation of their hearts may be acceptable to God. In homes where there is filthy talking, where filthy jokes are told before the children and where the tongue is not used to speak God’s praises the parents must not be surprised if they find their children in later life practicing immoral deeds. Let the parent live in the fear of the Lord and set an example by all their speech for their children to follow.
There is one other form of speech which we would have you consider with us in this first installment. It is the matter of the Christian Greeting. When those that fear the Lord, members of one family, fellow citizens of the kingdom of heaven, fellow members of the one body of Christ meet one another or take leave oi one another, there is nothing unique as a rule, and the speech used in these instances is identical to that of those who do not fear the Lord. Paul in his many epistles gives us a very different admonition. He declares for example in: “Salute every saint in Christ Jesus”. The “God be with you” of the parting salutation of the Quakers which does express the fear of the Lord has today contracted into “Good Bye” and is and can be used by the church and world alike. Surely this is not what Paul meant when to the Philippians but also to the church at Colosse and Thessalonica he said, “Salute all the saints” or when lie wrote to the Thessalonians, “Greet one another with a holy kiss”. It may be noticed that Paul speaks of an “holy kiss”. He plainly differentiates between the greeting and salutation of the world and that of those who fear the Lord. Should not our speech reveal that all our trust is in the Lord, that we expect His blessing and wish it upon all His saints? Should our farewell not always be, “The Lord Bless You”, or some similar expression which expresses our fear of the Lord? What does your speech reveal? Does it reveal your fear of the Lord?