A Good Fear

Not all fear is bad. Proverbs 14:16 says: “A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is arrogant and careless.”  The word “cautious” in this verse is literally “fears” in Hebrew. A wise man “fears” — and turns away from evil. What does he fear?

First of all, he fears God! A constant and repeated theme in the Old Testament is the phrase: “The fear of the LORD.” It doesn’t refer to a “craven fear”, but rather a realization of the accountability that one has to Him. The one who walks in the fear of the Lord realizes that God is always with him, and sees everything that he does. And he knows that he will be accountable to Him for all that he says and does. So the wise person fears God.

But he also fears the consequences of his actions. He doesn’t just rashly rush into some action or decision. He ponders what may happen as a result. And he knows that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). He knows that the house of the adulteress is “the way to Sheol” (Proverbs 7:27). He knows that “the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20) — and so on.

And so, fearing God, and the consequences of sin for his own life, the wise person “turns away from evil.” Sadly, not all give such thought to the consequences of what they do. This same verse goes on to say, “But a fool is arrogant and careless.” “Throwing caution to the wind” may sound exciting, but most of the time it leads to regrettable consequences.  “A wise person is cautious, and turns away from evil.”

About Shawn Thomas

My blog, shawnethomas.com, features the text of my sermons, book reviews, family life experiences -- as well as a brief overview of the Lifeway "Explore the Bible" lesson for Southern Baptist Sunday School teachers.
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