This is the time of year that people are making resolutions to do better. The idea of a fresh start with a new year gives us all inspiration and hope that we can become better people, accomplish our goals and fulfill new dreams if we make a plan and vow to stick with it.
But as the year goes on, how do we daily stick with it? What do we need to do to make the end of the year as exciting as the beginning? In other words, how do we keep the momentum going?
One verse I read several days ago has stuck with me, and I’m sharing it in hopes that it will help you, too.
To give you context, the Lord had just lead the Israelites out of slavery and He was giving Moses the Ten Commandments. The people had purified themselves for worship (Exodus 19:14) and were standing at the foot of Mount Sinai where they saw God descend on it in the form of fire and the whole mountain shook with a violent earthquake (Exodus 19:18). The Bible says, “When the people heard the thunder, and when they saw the lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear” (Exodus 20:18). They told Moses to tell them what God told him but they feared that they would die if they spoke with God directly (20:19). Moses’ reply was what has stuck with me. He said, “Don’t be afraid, for God has come in this way to show you His awesome power. From now on, let your fear of Him keep you from sinning!” (Exodus 20:20).
What a simple and yet profound thought – allowing our fear of the Lord to keep us from sinning.
If you’d ask me to name ten miracles that God performed, I could respond easily. If you believe the Bible to be true, then you know that He flooded the entire earth to destroy sinful people, that He shut the mouths of lions to save Daniel from being eaten, that He didn’t allow three Hebrews (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) to burn in the fiery furnace, that He sent plagues to Egypt to rescue the Israelites from slavery, that He parted the Red Sea so His people could cross on dry land, that He provided manna from heaven so His people could eat in the wilderness, that He healed barren women (like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Hanna), that He created the entire earth, that He allowed our Savior to be born of a virgin, and that He raised Lazarus back to life. These are only ten of the hundreds of documented miracles in the Bible. I believe every one of them are true and I am in awe at the power and majesty of God.
So, why does my fear of Him not keep me from sinning?
Honestly, I almost didn’t write this post because I didn’t feel worthy. As I mentioned before, I read this verse days ago. I’ve thought about it ever since. When I want to overindulge in eating, why does my fear of God not stop me? When I want to do something I know to be wrong, why don’t I let the fear of God keep me from sinning?
It should. It needs to be my main motivation if I’m going to stay on course this year. So, I start with a repentant heart. I ask God to remind me of who He is – His awesome power and His glory. And I’ve been fervently praying that my fear of Him will allow me to keep from sinning. I’ve begged for His help!
I’ve seen God’s power displayed in my life. And I’ve read in the Bible the consequences for sin. Adam and Eve were forgiven, and yet they reaped what they sowed. They were kicked out of Eden, they were forced to work the land for food, and women were given more pain in childbirth. While God promised a Savior to rescue them from sin, there were still irrevocable consequences for their behavior. Even in the twelve tribes of Israel, while there were three brothers older than Judah, Jesus came from his line because the older three had sinned against their father and not received his blessing. While their lives may not have looked all that different from their behavior, there were greater consequences for their sin than they even realized at the time.
So, where does that leave us? Personally, I want my life to be the best it can be. I want to leave a legacy for my children. I want to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant” when I pass from this life to the next. So, I’m trying to allow my fear of God to keep me from sinning. I’ll admit I’ve screwed up royally lately in this area (more than I’m willing to publicly share). But, that said, if humbly sharing what I’m trying to work on will enable one person who reads it to keep from doing even one sin because of their fear of the Lord, then it was worth writing, even if I am the unworthy writer.
So, what is your goal? What are you working on doing better this year? Whether it’s getting healthy, being less angry with your kids or conquering a different sin in your life, when the going gets tough and the temptation grips you, think “From now on, let your fear of Him [God] keep you from sinning!” (Exodus 20:20b).
Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for being a holy and worthy God. You are awesome in power and You’ve shared the stories of Your greatness and majesty with us. May we have a close relationship with You. May we know You in all Your splendor and holiness. May we be so close that our fear of You keeps us from sinning. Please forgive us of our past where we have made poor choices and disregarded this fear. We are sorry for our lack of respect and self-indulgence. Blood of Jesus, we ask You to cover our sin that we may again approach the throne of grace. We thank You for the opportunity to try again. May our lives and how we live honor and please You. May we be healthy and thin for Your glory, serving nothing or no one but You alone. In Jesus’ powerful and precious name we pray, AMEN!