January 10, 2020
Scripture: Proverbs 1:7
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Thought for the Day: I did some graduate work with a guy who was twenty years older than I was, and he often spoke about his early school years. He attended a religious school in which the punishment for rule infractions, and the intimidation that went alongside it, would probably be considered abuse in today’s world. Yes, it got the job done…sort of. Young people did what they were told, got their homework done, moved from class to class in an orderly way, but it was out of fear. A person may learn the dates and formulas and authors, but what happens to the human psyche in that environment? The Proverb, as we translate it, suggests that fear of the Lord is where knowledge begins. But I would suggest that fear, true fear of the Lord, is not where wisdom and instruction can begin or exist or end. Wisdom is from God, and no one who believes that approaching God requires fear is going to actually be approaching God. And for that reason, s/he is not going to encounter wisdom. You’ve heard me say it dozens of times, but I believe a better translation is Awe before the Lord is the beginning knowledge. Standing before the love of God inspires and uplifts. By its very beauty and immensity, it might make your knees shake just a bit, but it isn’t fear in the sense of intimidation or terror. It is an experience of God’s immeasurable love that begins a journey by which we come to know and learn about who this God is that loves us unconditionally.
Prayer: Let your love bring joy and peace and hope! Let me learn who you are, Merciful Maker of the Universe. Provide me opportunities to experience your love that is radical and redemptive, a love that brings fear only to the demonic forces of hate, abuse and injustice. Yet even for them, your love is given unconditionally, and in the end, they too will give into the beautiful welcome that is your love. Amen.
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