Finish the statement from Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of _______.”
Wisdom, right? No! The answer in this chapter is “knowledge.” (“Wisdom” would be the answer in Proverbs 9:10). It is incredible that knowing and standing in awe of God is not just the foundation for wisdom in life (a verse most are familiar with), but also for knowledge.
The fear of the Lord is an extremely valuable quality to cultivate throughout our lives and in the lives of our children or anyone we mentor. Check out these verses:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
What is The Fear of the Lord?
Early in my Christian walk, I was really curious what this meant. If “perfect love drives out all fear” (1 John 4:18) and “God is love,” (1 John 4:8) then why are we to “fear” Him? Surely it doesn’t mean “to be afraid of” Him. Surely it has a richer meaning.
Indeed it does.
So, What Does The Fear of the Lord Mean?
To “fear the Lord” means to stand in awe and reverence of Him. It means to be wonderstruck, awestruck, amazed, astonished, and lost for words at the holiness, sovereignty, mercy- and all the other amazing qualities of the Creator and Sustainer of all things.
There is delight there in the mercy and love- mixed with the weight of the extreme power, justice, and sovereignty of Him. It is a reverential awe mixed with respect and wonder.
How Do You Develop The Fear of the Lord?
It comes through a deep knowledge of Him. This can be cultivated through:
- Studying, Memorizing, and Pondering Long His Word
- Talking to Him Throughout Each Day
- Putting Your Confidence in Him Rather Than Yourself
- Trusting Him with All Your Concerns
- Praising Him and Thanking Him Throughout Each Day
- Confessing Your Sins to God and Others
- Worshiping God with Others
- Serving His Family with Your Gifts
- Telling Others About Him
- Obeying His Word
As you know God better, your reverential respect of Him increases. As your reverential respect of Him increases, so does your insight, wisdom and knowledge.
Your ability to learn what really matters is directly correlated to your knowledge of God.
Helping Our Kids Grow in Wisdom and Knowledge
So, what are the implications, then, for our children. I don’t think anyone would say, “I want my little darling to grow up to be a fool.”
As parents, we seek out all kinds of ways to help our kids grow in wisdom and knowledge. We want them to work well on a team, so we put them in sports. We want them to develop the arts, so we give them art and/or music lessons. We get them tutors for classes they struggle in or to prepare for tests. We put them in clubs and extracurricular activities to develop other skills and talents.
But the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge. It’s not an afterthought. It’s the foundation.
We can’t put our kids in Sunday School and take them to church and expect others to cultivate that in them. That’s an important part of it, but there is much more to it.
Live it Yourself- Young Eyes are Watching
We have to model to our kids what it means to be a man or woman after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). We have to show them what it means to hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:6), and to seek for wisdom as if it were a hidden treasure (Proverbs 2:1-15). We are the ones they are watching to see if God’s Word is really that important and if we really are committed to talking to Him and worshiping Him and fellowshipping with and serving His family.
Disciple Your Kids
Cultivating the fear of the Lord in our kids so that they can be receptive to knowledge and wisdom involves our taking Matthew 28:19-20 seriously in our homes.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
I was taught in Bible school that “go” here is more like “as you go.” So, as we go through our days, telling others of the wonders of knowing God and discipling them, our kids are watching. And as we go through our days, we are also telling our children of the wonders of knowing God and of how He works in our lives. As we go, we are discipling them.
I guess you could think about it like the disciples and Jesus. Jesus was going about His ministry- serving, working miracles, teaching, revealing Truth, and discipling many. As He went, His disciples were at His side those few short years, just as our kids are at our sides for a few short years (in perspective of the length of life and eternity). And in those few short years, we have the thrill and wonder of helping foster in our children a personal, reverential knowledge of the Lord. It’s not something we can force or make happen. But, we can facilitate time and space and focus that can give God’s Word time to work on their hearts.
Great Resources for Deepening Your Kids Fear of the Lord
There are many great ways to do this, like:
- Reading Bibles they can understand when they are small like The Big Picture Story Bible.
- Teaching them to pray and praying with them regularly, not forgetting to notice and thank God as He responds to your prayers
- Telling your kids your own God stories.
- Training them in Truth- casting all their education in the light of the fear of the Lord. This is super easy to do if you are homeschooling through materials from publishers like Master Books that seek to cast education in the light of the knowledge and fear of the Lord. Even if you aren’t homeschooling, using materials like these at home with your kids is a great way to keep them grounded and deepen their knowledge of the Lord and confidence in Him. I would use their materials even if I weren’t homeschooling in elementary, middle, and high school- great stuff to go through or discuss with your kids!
- Choosing the stories you read to your kids or listen to together carefully.
- I’ve been thoroughly impressed by the stories Lamplighter Press has carefully chosen to help children grow in wisdom. Teddy’s Button had my eldest in tears as he deepened His knowledge of what it looks like to love, fear God, sacrifice, and have honorable character.
- The Hero Biographies of missionaries and others by YWAM have been a thrill to read to my kids- even at ages 3 and 5. (You could have caught me up in my closet half the night reading one by myself, because I couldn’t put it down.)
- GT and the Halo Express is great for the car or as a TV alternative in the home. Great stories- and all the songs are Scripture! This is a great way to memorize Scripture.
- I also love Adventures in Odyssey. I am really impressed by “Wooton’s Whirled History: A Mix of Melody Makers,” which tells the story behind “Amazing Grace,” “It is Well,” and the Jubilee Singers. (A lot of tears were shed listening through those).
- Spending time with the Lord together. Show them how to have a quiet time by doing it with them.
And then, as the Lord did with His closest followers, we send them out.
And we pray, pray, pray that they know and fear the Lord so they can have the knowledge and wisdom to make the right choices in this short, very significant life.