Schuyler M is an author of a forthcoming book and long-time blogger on My Lady Bibliophile. In addition, she has been a member of the International Christian Bible Fellowship since its beginning. For more of Schuyler's writing, please visit her blog at http://ladybibliophile.blogspot.com/.
By Schuyler M
“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ (Malachi 1:6, ESV)
Mary Kassian and Nancy Leigh DeMoss, in their study TrueWoman 201, make an eye-opening explanation of reverence:
Irreverence is failing to value something of great worth. It’s making little of something we should make much of. Whenever we make more of our opinions and desires than we make of the opinions and desires of Christ, we are guilty of irreverence. It is as though we deface and desecrate the memory of his sacrifice.
The concept of reverence is a somewhat ethereal one. Most of us think of reverence as having respect and awe for a high and holy God. A fear of God. We know that God commands reverence: You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. (Deuteronomy 13:4, ESV) We also know that God has the right to our reverence. He is the one God. We are his people--slaves to Christ, a chosen nation, a royal priesthood, set apart to do good works.
1 Samuel 2:10b says “those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed.” But on a basic level, what does honor, or reverence, even mean? Is it a feeling we summon up on the good days and pretend to have on the bad days? Not really. Reverence gets gritty and practical. Reverence means that the Master and Father we seek to honor has the right to make specific requirements of our speech and actions.
As I journeyed through their study of reverence a couple of weeks ago, I learned a lot about putting it on a practical level. Here are some specific commands about reverence I discovered:
Reverence means we love to worship.
The use of our time shows where our heart is. In Matthew 15:8, Jesus quotes Isaiah’s rebuke to the Israelites: “these people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Reverence means that we consider the presence of God more important than anything else on our schedule. We make time to talk to him, and listen to his Word--just like a servant listens to the word and commands of their master.
Also, reverence means that we adore the Being we subject ourselves to. In John 12, when Mary unbound her hair and poured perfume on the feet of Jesus, she revered him so deeply that her worship was extravagant and unembarrassed. She made much of Christ to show how much she loved him. Our reverence of Christ should be as extravagant and heartfelt as hers.
Reverence means we exercise self-control.
One thing my study pointed out, is that the opposite of reverence is self-indulgence, or self-worship. Reverence means that we care about the being we honor, from their commands down to their lightest preference. We live with the mindset of pleasing them in everything we do. Many of us fall into times in our lives where we reverence or honor our own desires instead of “making much” of Christ.
If Christ deserves our reverence, then that means he is Master. When we live in a mindset of self-indulgence, whether that’s too much computer time, too little help of others, too much caustic speech, too much food, too much Pinterest trolling, too much complaining--then we preach that we consider ourselves a more worthy object of honor than Christ. “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” (2 Peter 2:19)
Any kind of over-indulgence, whether large or small, is self-reverence. Self-control keeps Christ in first place and shows that we consider him a more worthy object of worship than ourselves.
Reverence means our speech is holy.
When we use our speech to verbally uphold God and upbuild others, we reverence Christ. Reverence means that we honor our Master, and we are kind to fellow believers who are made in the Master’s image. We choose gracious and humble words. We are not wise in our own eyes, for that means we reverence our own wisdom. We verbally praise the Lord. We use our tongues to give thanks and speak wisdom. Proverbs 8:13 says The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate. (emphasis mine) Ephesians 4:29 tells us how we should speak: Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Reverence means we submit to one another.
Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21, ESV) The Greek word for submitting literally means that we put ourselves under those around us. In humility, we consider others better than ourselves. Put other’s interests first. Listen to other’s mindsets. In other words, everything we do to show reverence to Christ (short of worship), we do to show honor to others--not to worship them, but in order that Christ himself may be more magnified.
In conclusion, reverence is constantly saying, throughout our lives, “You first, Jesus. Me last.”
Making much of Christ puts us in a fellowship of holy intimacy with our Father. It also means that our prayers are heard (Hebrews 5:7). But by far, one of the greatest benefits of our reverence is our testimony to others. As DeMoss and Kassian said in the TrueWoman 201 teaching video on reverence, “Reverence in our lives makes the truth we say we believe more believable to others.” We can quote all the verses we want about reverence on our Facebook feeds. But people will be more convinced by our reverent behavior, relationships, and speech, that we really honor the God we say we do.
My prayer as I began that study, and one that I desire even after I have finished it, is this: Oh Lord, I am in awe of your God-ness. You are holy, worthy, sovereign. Help me always to be profoundly mindful and respectful of Your abiding presence.
The reward for humility and fear of the Lord
is riches and honor and life.(Proverbs 22:4 ESV)