What does it mean to have reverence for God?

To have reverence for someone or something means that you revere, or, highly respect and honor, that person or thing. Reverence starts in the heart and manifests in the actions. In the Bible, we are frequently instructed to reverence God, which can also be phrased as "honoring" or "fearing" God. First Samuel 12:24 says: "Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you." When we have reverence for God, it manifests in our actions as obedience and praise to Him.

In some Christian culture, there can be an overemphasis on the love and kindness of God without any attention paid to His holiness. God shows us His incomparable love and kindness every day (Lamentations 3:22–23), but as wonderful as those attributes are, we need to balance them by remembering that God is all-powerful and sovereign, keeping our hearts reverent before Him. When Job was in the depths of despair, after having tragically lost his children and his wealth, he felt as though he had done everything right and did not deserve to have this happen to him. God responded to him in Job 38—41, showcasing His power and ultimate authority. Job had become prideful in being convinced of his own goodness; God showed Job that his own goodness didn't mean anything in comparison with the power of God. Job was humbled and had his reverence for God renewed before having his heritage and fortune restored.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites had many commands within the Law that stipulated reverence for God and for His dwelling place, the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle and later in the temple (Leviticus 16:2). In the New Testament, Jesus reminds us of the holiness of God and that we need to reverence Him (Matthew 6:9; see also 1 Peter 3:15). By placing our faith in Jesus as Lord, we become Christians and are indwelled by the Holy Spirit who enables us to live righteously (Titus 2:11–12). First Peter 1:14–16 says: "As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.'" God is holy and so should we be. When we submit to Him, He works His good will within us (Philippians 2:12–13).

Having reverence for God means that we acknowledge His lordship in every area of our lives and we obey what He commands. While He was on earth, Jesus was heard by God "because of His reverence," which lets us know that God will also hear us when we pray from a heart of reverence (Hebrews 5:7). How could we not have reverence when we realize that the God who created the universe is the same God that loves us and saves us (Hebrews 12:28–29)? When we recognize God's ultimate holiness and combine that with recognizing His goodness and faithfulness to us, the only natural response we can have is to worship Him (John 4:24). He is worthy of all praise (Psalm 95:1–7). We thank Him for the saving grace He has provided for us, receive His love, and acknowledge Him as the omnipotent God of all.

Related Truth:

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We know we should honor God. What does it mean to honor Him?

What is it to praise God?

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