It is axiomatic that the Christian must fear God. A cursory reading of Scripture makes this clear, without question. Though axiomatic, this doctrine is frequently misunderstood and unpracticed. In other words, fear does not always lead to knowledge and wisdom (Prov. 1:7), but often paralysis. Fear often causes us to respect the wrong subjects.
In Matthew 10:26ff, Jesus makes it clear that there is One we must fear: God. Not people. Now, there is justifiable cause to our fear of man: people hurt us. People can and do kill other people. To not possess a healthy respect for the damage people can do smacks of an innocent ignorance of the way things work.
Jesus, however, provides perspective. “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” The best people can do is end our physical life. They can’t touch our soul.
“But that still seems rather bad,” you may argue. It is. But it is nothing compared to the terrible reality of falling into the hands of a God angry at our unatoned-for sin. We should, therefore, fear Him who can destroy both body and soul.
But we may not stop here. We cannot stop here. Because Jesus does not stop here. He proceeds to provide a valuation of avian life — which seems strange to us. Why interrupt this sober moment to point out the small sparrows flitting about?
Because not all fear leads to paralysis and terror.
Follow the logic. If the God who holds billions of galaxies in His gaze and grasp takes notice of the stoppage of the tiny beating heart of a sparrow, then will He not notice those created in His image?
Are you aware that it is not only your good and evil deeds which are counted, but the very hairs sprouting from you head? What kind of God takes notice of these apparently irrelevant details? A God who cares and loves deeper than you can imagine.
And when we fear this God, it leads to fearlessness. “Fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell...fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
So do not fear people. Fear God by acknowledging the Son He sent into the world before those same people. For when you do, the Son will call your name — not in condemnation, but in love — before the very God who will judge all.
What safer and more glorious place is there in the universe than that?