Is the God of the Bible worthy of respect? I almost hesitate to ask the question because the answer is so obvious, and because even raising it almost seems disrespectful.
“God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about Him” (Psalm 89:7).
“Respect,” and even the Biblical term “reverence” are not big enough words for the place of honor God must hold in our hearts. This leads to another and more proper inquiry: do we hold and communicate a respectable view of God? Do our beliefs and words reflect the perception of a Lord truly worthy of being “greatly feared” and “had in reverence?”
A good friend often says that many people view God as being the kindly grandfather “who just wants the children to be happy and have a good time.” Certainly, our Lord is keenly interested in our joy, and will not be satisfied until our hearts truly rejoice in Him. However, any notion of a merely sentimental God belies the consistent Biblical refrain that our Lord’s primary interest rightly focuses on our holiness rather than our happiness. Indeed, the former leads to the latter, but the latter can never foster the former. We could never respect a God so shallow that He would sacrifice our best interests just so that we might “be happy and have a good time.” Tears provide an integral portion of our Lord’s sanctifying work in us, no less than smiles. “Before I was afflicted, I went astray. But now I have kept Thy Word” (Psalm 119:67). Our Heavenly Father knows this truth perfectly, and acts accordingly. If such were not the case, He would not be worthy of our reverence.
We also could not respect a God who tolerated or overlooked sin. Being the rampaging destroyer that it is, sin would ultimately annihilate creation. This was the reason for the flood in Noah’s time – “And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence through them” (Genesis 6:12-13). Had the Lord failed to bring the judgment of the flood, the human race would have destroyed itself. The same will be true at the end of time, when great outpourings of Divine wrath against sin will again be required to redeem humanity – “Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved” (Matthew 24:22). A tolerant God would simply allow such demise to take place, so as not to hurt the feelings or discomfit “the children” and their happiness. Moreover, He would not be worthy of respect.
The Bible contains many hard, but necessary truths about God and His working in our lives. We must be sure that we do not omit these Divine realities from our understanding, or from how we seek to communicate Him to others. Scripture not only woos us to God by the blessed truths of His love, grace, mercy, kindness, and desire to establish and enhance devoted relationship with us. It also warns us to “Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). We wouldn’t want Him to be any other way because we could never truly love or trust a God whom we didn’t also respect. Yes, indeed, our Lord is worthy of our deepest reverence. May we know and proclaim Him accordingly.
“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”