How to Have Reverence for God: 3 Essential Paths of Practice
What does reverence for God mean? God’s words say: “‘To fear God’ does not mean nameless fright and horror, nor to evade, nor to put at a distance, nor is it idolization or superstition. Rather, it is admiration, esteem, trust, understanding, caring, obedience, consecration, love, as well as unconditional and uncomplaining worship, requital, and submission.” God’s words show us that reverence for God means that one has a place for God and magnify God in his heart, is able to stand on God’s side no matter what happens, and to put His words into practice. It’s doing everything out of love for God, to repay God’s love, not for the sake of being rewarded, being crowned. And no matter what tribulations and trials he undergoes, he won’t blame God or betray God, but can obey God unconditionally. Job is an example of those who have reverence for God. He feared God and shunned evil all his life, and when confronted with Satan’s temptations, when he lost all his possessions, children, or even when his whole body was covered with sore boils, he still stood on God’s side to obey and praise God. He bore a resounding testimony for God, thereby receiving God’s approval and blessings, and living a life of value and meaning. Here, we can see that God treasures very much those who revere God and only such people can be approved by God.
How can we have reverence for God? Next, let’s have a fellowship on three ways through which a Christian can attain reverence for God:
1. Praying and Seeking God’s Will in Everything
God’s words say, “You must often come before God, eat and drink and ponder His words, and accept His discipline and guidance of you. You must be able to submit to all the environments, people, things, and matters that God has arranged for you, and when it comes to matters you cannot quite fathom, you must frequently pray while seeking the truth; only by understanding God’s will can you find a way forward. You must be in reverence of God, and do cautiously what you should do; you must often be at peace before God, and not be dissolute. At the very least, when something happens to you, your first reaction should be to calm yourself, and then pray immediately. By praying, waiting, and seeking, you will attain an understanding of God’s will. This is an attitude that shows reverence toward God, is it not?” (“Only by Constantly Living Before God Can One Walk the Path to Salvation” in Records of Christ’s Talks).
Here, we can see that praying and seeking God’s will when a thing arises is an attitude that shows reverence toward God. We know that all things are in God’s control. So, there is God’s good purpose behind every person, event, or object we encounter. If we don’t pray and seek, we won’t understand God’s will. And when something disagreeable or inconsistent with our notions happens, we will be prone to analyze it with our minds, make complaints against God, and even say something that is sinful and resistant to God. However, if we come before God to pray and seek God’s will, He will guide us to know what His good purpose is and what lessons we should learn because He knows our heart yearns for and seeks the truth. In this way, we will be able to offer our praises to God from the bottom of our heart.
Just like Job, his oxen and sheep were plundered, some of his servants were killed, his sons and daughters’ lives were taken away. But Job never complained against God. His first reaction was coming before God to pray and seek God’s will. When he was aware that all his wealth and children were given by God and God had the right to take them away, and that created beings ought to be obedient, finally he said “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1:21), and bore a resounding testimony. However, Job’s three friends were the opposite. When they saw what had happened to Job, without understanding God’s will, without praying and seeking, they passed judgment on Job casually, and ended up becoming Satan’s outlet and being rejected and despised by God. Here, we can see that seeking God’s will is vitally important for us to attain reverence for God.
A period of time ago, a sister in our church got a severe disease all of a sudden. At the beginning, she could be submissive and entrusted her disease to God, while at the same time she took some medicine. But some time later, her disease still didn’t get better at all. Then, the sister grew negative, thinking that she was expending herself for God every day, but God did not protect and care for her. Once this thought came out, she realized that it was wrong, and so she hurriedly came before God to pray, in an attempt to find God’s will in this matter. Later, the sister came across these words of God: “So many believe in Me only that I might heal them. So many believe in Me only that I might use My powers to drive unclean spirits out from their bodies, and so many believe in Me simply that they might receive peace and joy from Me. So many believe in Me only to demand from Me greater material wealth. So many believe in Me just to spend this life in peace and to be safe and sound in the world to come. So many believe in Me to avoid the suffering of hell and to receive the blessings of heaven. So many believe in Me only for temporary comfort, yet do not seek to gain anything in the world to come. When I brought down My fury upon man and seized all the joy and peace he once possessed, man became doubtful. When I gave unto man the suffering of hell and reclaimed the blessings of heaven, man’s shame turned into anger. When man asked Me to heal him, I paid him no heed and felt abhorrence toward him; man departed from Me to instead seek the way of evil medicine and sorcery. When I took away all that man had demanded from Me, everyone disappeared without a trace. Thus, I say that man has faith in Me because I give too much grace, and there is far too much to gain.” Compared against what’s exposed in God’s utterances, the sister grew conscious of the fact that she sacrificed and expended herself not in order to fulfill her duty as a created being, not to repay God’s love, but to receive the blessings of heaven. For this reason, when she had prayed for God to heal her but God hadn’t answered her prayers, she had begun to reason with God and blame God. Through self-reflection, she realized that she was too selfish, without the slightest love for God, and that everything she did was for her own sake. Even though she ran around and expended herself, she was making a deal with God. If she hadn’t been exposed in such an environment, she would still have thought that she was quite loyal to God, and wouldn’t have been aware of her own deficiencies. After gaining these realizations, she had no more complaints against God and was willing to obey God’s arrangements and orchestrations as to when her disease would be cured. Later, the sister gave a sigh and said that it’s so important to pray and seek God’s will when we encounter things that don’t accord with our notions. If she hadn’t prayed and sought in time, she would have lived in a state of misunderstanding and blaming God, and would have made complaints toward God and resisted God, thus losing testimony and arousing God’s loathing.
Here, we can see that it’s very important to pray and seek God’s will when things happen to us, and this is an indispensable practice by which we can attain reverence for God.
2. Acknowledging God as the Creator, and Being Obedient
God says, “There is a fundamental principle of the Lord of creation’s treatment of created beings, which is also the highest principle. How He treats created beings is completely based on His management plan and on His requirements; He does not need to consult any single person, nor does He need to get any single person to agree with Him. Whatever He ought to do and however He ought to treat people, He does, and, no matter what He does or how He treats people, it all accords with the principles by which the Lord of creation works. As a created being, the only thing to do is submit; there should not be any other choice. What does this show? It shows that the Lord of creation will always be the Lord of creation; He has the power and the qualifications to orchestrate and rule over any created being as He pleases, and does not need a reason to do so. This is His authority. There is not one among the beings of creation who, insofar as they are created beings, has the power or is qualified to pass judgment on how the Creator should act or on whether what He does is right or wrong, nor is any created being qualified to choose whether they should be ruled over, orchestrated, or disposed of by the Lord of creation. Likewise, not a single created being has the qualifications to choose how they are ruled over and disposed of by the Lord of creation. This is the highest truth” (“Only by Seeking the Truth Can One Know God’s Deeds” in Records of Christ’s Talks).
To attain reverence for God, we must acknowledge that God is the Creator and we are the creature, and that no matter what God does and whether it accords with our notions, we are not qualified to analyze right and wrong and should be obedient unconditionally. This is the rationality we should possess, because God is a wise God, His work is wonderful, unfathomable and doesn’t conform to our notions. Sometimes, even if we pray and seek, we may not understand His will immediately. At this point, we should stand in the position of a created being and acknowledge that God is the truth and has the authority to control and arrange everything for man, and that created beings should be obedient and can’t oppose the Creator. If we have this understanding, if we can be obedient and stand witness when we encounter any calamities or trials, it means that we are on the path of fearing God and shunning evil. However, if we stubbornly reason with God, we’re not worthy to be called a human, because only the devil Satan is devoid of sense and dares to openly fight and clamor against God. They are walking the path of resisting God, and are doomed to be punished by God in the end. So, as followers of God, if we want to attain reverence for God, the least we should do is treat God as God and have the reason that created beings should possess.
We all know that when Abraham was 99 years old, God gave him a son, Isaac. When Isaac reached his teenage years, God asked Abraham to offer his only son as an offering. In many people’s eyes, this request of God does not accord with human notions, and since God has given the son to Abraham, He couldn’t take him away. But how did Abraham view this matter? The Bible says, “And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and split the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went to the place of which God had told him. … And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar on the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son” (Genesis 22:3–10). From these words, it can be seen that Abraham did not analyze the matter with his mind. Although he felt miserable inside, he still submitted to God with rationality. If Abraham were devoid of the rationality and the obedience of God a created being should possess, maybe he would have reasoned with God and opposed Him in this trial. It’s also written in the Bible that when Abraham raised his knife to kill his son, God stopped him in time. God did not truly want him to kill his son, but only to test him. Because God had the work to do through Abraham — He wanted him to serve as the leading person of the Israelites, God had to test Abraham to see whether he was capable of taking on such an important commission. As Abraham had reverence for God in trials and fully obeyed His demand, God blessed him greatly, multiplying his seed as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the sea shore, and planning to achieve His management in his descendants.
It’s not hard for us to see that every work of God that does not accord with man’s notions is meaningful. If we really have rationality and obedience, we will be able to step onto the path of revering God.
3. Knowing God’s Disposition
God says, “If you do not understand the disposition of God, then it will be impossible for you to do the work you should do for Him. If you do not know the essence of God, then it will be impossible for you to have reverence and fear toward Him; instead, there will be only heedless perfunctoriness and prevarication, and moreover, incorrigible blasphemy.” “First of all, we know that God’s disposition is majesty and wrath; He is not a sheep to be slaughtered by anyone, much less a puppet to be controlled by people however they want. He is also not a bunch of empty air to be bossed around. If you truly believe that God exists, then you should have a God-fearing heart, and you should know that His essence is not one to be angered.”
From these words, we clearly see that knowing God’s disposition is essential to our attainment of revering God. Many people believe that God’s disposition is just compassionate and merciful, so no matter how many sins people have committed or how many things disagreeable to God people have done, God will forgive them as long as they repent. With this perspective, many of us don’t have the slightest reverence for God and often commit sins to resist God. In fact, God’s disposition includes not only compassion and mercy, but also righteousness, majesty, and wrath. To those who resist God and offend God’s disposition, God is punishment and curse. Like the band of Korah in the Age of Law, they disobeyed Moses and said that Moses took much on him. By saying this word, outwardly they were disobedient to a person, but essentially they were resisting God, because Moses was a man used by God. Their actions seriously offended God’s disposition, and God had the earth open up its mouth and swallow them all. Another example is Judas who sold out the Lord Jesus. Although he was a disciple of the Lord, he often stole the money of the Lord. In the end, he offended God’s disposition and incurred God’s punishment for selling out the Lord — he died of his bowels gushing out. The third example is Ananias and Sapphira who lied to the Holy Spirit by not admitting they had kept for themselves some of the money they received. They were punished by God and died immediately. Obviously, it’s not that God will forgive people for any sin they commit. Some sins can be forgiven by God, and some are unforgivable. In addition, we can see God’s righteousness in His burning of Sodom recorded in the Bible. The people of Sodom ultimately suffered God’s punishment because they were evil and depraved to a certain degree and never wished to repent. If we have no reverence for God and satisfy the flesh in everything and commit sin at will, then we will suffer God’s punishment all the same. So, when we know that God’s righteousness is unoffendable, we will be afraid to offend God. And before we say or do anything in the future, we will consider whether it is in accordance with God’s will, and we dare not follow our fleshly preferences to do things that offend God. This is how we come to fear God and shun evil.
Actually, Job’s fear of God was because of his understanding of God’s righteous disposition, just like Job said, “This is the portion of a wicked man with God, and the heritage of oppressors, which they shall receive of the Almighty. If his children be multiplied, it is for the sword: and his offspring shall not be satisfied with bread. Those that remain of him shall be buried in death: and his widows shall not weep. Though he heap up silver as the dust, and prepare raiment as the clay; He may prepare it, but the just shall put it on, and the innocent shall divide the silver. He builds his house as a moth, and as a booth that the keeper makes. The rich man shall lie down, but he shall not be gathered: he opens his eyes, and he is not” (Job 27: 13–19). Job’s statement shows that he had some knowledge of God’s righteous disposition. He knew that man’s words and actions are all observed by God’s eyes, and that no man who commits sins can escape His eyes. Those who don’t walk the right path, often live in sins and never repent, and who have violence in their hands will be repaid with God’s righteous punishment. Therefore, Job often feared God and shunned evil in his actual life. For example, he knew that holding feasts is loathsome to God; afraid to offend God, he not only never joined his children in holding feasts, but also regularly sent them to be sanctified. Job’s action is inseparable from his understanding of God’s righteous disposition.
In one word, if we want to fear God and shun evil, first of all we must pray to God and seek His will in everything we encounter. Secondly, we must be rational and obey God’s arrangements and orchestrations when we encounter unpleasant things. Lastly, we need to know God’s righteous disposition. I believe that if we practice according to these three ways mentioned above, we will definitely have entry and gain on the path of fearing God and shunning evil.
Source: Walk in the Light
Worship God in Spirit and in Truth — A Commentary on John 4:24
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.