This isn’t normally why we think God responds in anger over our sin. Normally we see God’s anger over our sin resulting from what it does to Him. Yet, here the writer of Proverbs says that contrary to our common thought, God’s greatest horror comes from the fact that my sin most injures me. It’s much like a father saying to his child, “Stay away from the fire. If you don’t stay away from the fire, I’m going to be angry with you.” The child may think the reason his father says he’ll be angry is because of his disobedience to his father’s command, but that’s not the real reason the father says he will be angry. The father is most concerned that by his child’s act of disobedience he might hurt himself and as a result of the child’s injury the father will become angry thereby causing himself pain.
Now, transfer this thought to what we would consider to be “hell-fire.” Our Heavenly Father cries out to us and says, “Stay away from the fire! Don’t go near the fire! I’m telling you, if you go near the fire you will get burned.” Why does He command us to stay away from the fire? Is it only because He wants to exercise or exert His divine authority? No. In fact, as startling as it may seem, He commands us to stay away from the fire not because of divine authoriy but because of a divine fear.
We’ve all heard, and probably even uttered, the statement, “The fear of the Lord.” But, what does that statement mean? When I’m told to cultivate, nurture, exercise a healthy, holy “fear of the Lord,” what does that mean? It means that I am to have in my heart the same kind of fear that exists in the heart of God. I am to have the same sort of dread in my heart that my Father in Heaven has for His children. The “fear of the Lord” is the fear that the Father’s children – His sons and daughters – will touch and be burned by the fire. If there wasn’t that sort of horror in the heart of God He would never have given the divine, “Thou shalt not’s” of Sinai.
Some people love to talk about God’s “sovereign decrees.” But, I don’t believe that God has any “sovereign decrees.” I believe that all of God’s decrees are “paternal decrees” – they come from the Father’s heart. You see, a despot’s decrees are meant only to limit or to restrain, but our God’s decrees are meant to free, to expand. Why does God command us not to hate? Because hatred hurts our heart. Why does God command us not to be jealous? Because jealousy limits our heart. Why does God forbid us to be selfish? Because selfishness restricts our heart. Why are we commanded to love? Because love lifts our heart. Why are we commanded to be merciful? Because mercy ministers to our heart. Why are we commanded to forgive? Because forgiveness frees our heart.
You see, the Father’s commands break our bonds and sets us free. Our Father requires faith so we can fly, grace so we can grow, service so we can sing, and prayer so we can prophesy. Our Father glories in the growth of His children.
Lord, let me feel what You feel over my sin – not the disobedience, but the danger. May your pain be my pain – the pain of a hurting heart for the sinner. Let me learn about sin’s suicide. Let me realize that Magdalene’s sin mars her own flower. Teach me that sin’s judgment is not that of a despot’s anger, but a father’s grief. Let me remember that when Jesus said, “Now is the judgement of this world” it was at the time when His own heart was crucified by the pain of His creation. Don’t just reveal to me, but repeat in me, Calvary’s mystery. I know that the sinners of this world have violated Your justice, but You say that Your deepest sorrow is that their sins have actually “wronged their own souls.”