The Fear of God

I have been contemplating thoughts about educational motivation for some months now, working off this map of motivation.  I have considered external motivations, and have now worked my way through several fears, such as ignorance, materialism and other’s expectations.  So now I turn to one last fear, the fear of God, which is the beginning of wisdom.  As fears go, it is the most preferable as a motivating factor.

I am entering into a discussion of theology here, and must assert my lay amateur status in doing so.  I have a degree in Theology which makes me dangerous, not authoritative.  So please understand that I admit there is lots of room for error.

That being said, I understand the many passages in Scripture that command us to “fear the Lord” and state that this fear is the beginning of wisdom are aiming us at the source of truth, goodness, and beauty.  We cannot be wise (live according to the truth) if we do know the source of wisdom – God.  And we cannot rightly know God without a proper fear or reverence or awe for Who He Is.


So this fear is not the same as the fear considered in previous blogs, as it is proper to see God as One Who is above us, beyond us, sovereign over us.  It may be a lack of courage that causes us to fear for our own well being to the point of fearing ignorance, materialism, or other’s opinions/expectations of us, but fearing God is a legitimate and virtuous thing for all people.

In future meditations I will discuss the motivating factors of love and appetite, but must state that proper love and appetite for learning originate and proceed from this fear.  Thus any teacher seeking to properly motivate learning must direct the student’s heart toward the fear of God.  I don’t think any proper learning will occur without it.  Whatever is gained through learning apart from this fear will end in frustration and ruin.

This idea, of course, can be meditated upon and have corollaries extrapolated from it ad infinitum.  But I will stick to some basic thoughts, questions that come from this concept:

  • This fear is not a call to manipulation – I don’t hold God over a child’s head to scare him into performance. That would not be a fear of God but a fear of punishment.
  • I don’t think this fear can be instilled in a student if it is absent from the teacher. It is not a science inculcated through lecture, but an art caught from observation of others, most notably the parents and teachers.
  • The integration of all learning begins in this fear – God is the source of all Truth, and its only proper end. This is, by the by, a strong argument against the current manner of public education which seeks to educate apart from any reference to God.  As I have said many times before, “Real education is illegal in the American government schools.”
  • This fear is a positive thing, not a negative thing. It comes from and adds to our love for God but is not the same concept.  Loving God includes fearing Him or rightly seeing Him for Who He is.
  • It is impossible to fear both God and man. I think many educational choices boil down to Whom it is that I fear most – God or man.

I am sure there is much more here, but those are my current courses of thought on this huge subject.


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