Friday, July 31, 2015

Wisdom Study Session 9: Those who Fear the Lord Serve Him--part 1

Serving to God is another component of Fear of the Lord. This and the following posts will consider this aspect of fearing the Lord.

The connection between service and Fear of the Lord usually arises in the Old Testament in a way suggesting that active service is a prophylactic that keeps us from things that would get between us and God, or as an antidote for things that have already done that. Deuteronomy 6:13 identifies focused service as a way to avoid materialism and pride, two things that will indeed interfere with our relationship to God. Deuteronomy 13:4 tells us that service is a way to avoid being mislead by false prophets, another thing that can separate us from God. Psalm 34:11 & 14 tell us, in slightly different language, that it will keep us from deceit. Deuteronomy 10:12-13, Deuteronomy 10:20, 1 Samuel 12:14, and 1 Samuel 12:24 identify service as a way to be reconciled after we have sinned.

Those same dynamics carry over into the New Testament, albeit with little express reference to “Fear of the Lord.”  In  Matthew 4:10 Jesus invokes Deuteronomy 6:13’s command to serve God in response to Satan’s temptation to material gain. Luke 12:35-38 and 1 Peter 4:10 teach that focusing on the service that God has placed immediately before us is a way to deal with anxiety about the future. Matthew 20:28 and Galatians 5:13 identify service to others as an antidote to pride, jealousy, and the dissention that usually follow those vices.

So what exactly is this "service"? The Hebrew words used in the Old Testament passages mean “to labour, work, do work,” “to do or make ... accomplish ... bring forth,” to work for another,” and “to make oneself a servant.”  The Greek words used in the New Testament passages were understood to mean “to be a servant, attendant, domestic, to serve, to wait upon,” “to attend to anything that may serve another's interests,” to “to be a slave, serve, to do service.” In essence, the concept means actively working to advance God’s mission, exerting focused effort to make His “kingdom come and [His] will be done.” 

What guidance does scripture give us on the specifics of doing that?  We’ll discuss that in the next post.