The Joy of Fearing God
by Jerry Bridges
Great thoughts about God will lead naturally to realistic thoughts about ourselves. We begin to realize how little we know, how uncertain and unpredictable life is, and consequently how little we’re actually in control of anything. We begin to see that we’re physically and spiritually frail and vulnerable, and that every second of our lives is lived at the good pleasure of God. As John Calvin wrote, “Man is never sufficiently touched and affected by the awareness of his lowly state until he has compared himself with God’s majesty.”6 Such an awareness of ourselves is spiritually healthy. Few things block our growth of fearing God as do feelings of self-righteousness and self-sufficiency. When we’re pleased with our goodness and confident of our abilities, we tend not to stand in awe of God. But when we’re shorn of our self-righteousness and stripped of sinful self-sufficiency, we’re in position to fear Him. Then not only do we fear God, but we bring Him pleasure: “His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love” (Psalm 147:10–11). The strength of the horse and the legs of a man are pictures of the natural or human means we tend to rely on—they perhaps refer to military strength in both cavalry and infantry. But God does not take pleasure in those objects of our trust. Rather He delights in us when we fear Him and hope in His love and faithfulness. He wants us to stand in awe of Him and therefore to trust Him. We can do this only as we learn to think great thoughts about God. And when we do, we’ll enjoy fearing Him.