What does it mean to fear the Lord?

What’s up fam,

Let me first say how much fun Garlin and I had at Blogging While Brown here in DC last weekend. I want to thank Gina McCauley, Shalon Evana, Shawn Williams, Aminah Hannan, Monroe Anderson, Cheryl Contee, Kristal High, and the whole host of participants that have come together to take our collective and individual blogging to the next level.

Today, I wanted to write about spirituality, in particular Proverbs 8:13, which states,

“To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.”

To be sure, fear used here is not meant in the literal sense but fear in the sense of grave respect. Fearing the Lord is necessary to have a proper relationship with God. I looked at this scripture and looked at it like an equation so what comes (or came) first for you, fearing the Lord or hating evil? For that matter, how do you even define evil? With respect to the latter question of defining evil, I went to Strong’s Concordance Dictionary to understand how the evil was defined in Proverbs 8:13 and the entry for evil follows below,

7451. ra’
bad, evil
Original Word: רָע
Transliteration: ra’
Phonetic Spelling: (rah)
Short Definition: adversity
adversity, affliction, bad, calamity, displeasure, distress

From ra’a'; bad or (as noun) evil (natural or moral) — adversity, affliction, bad, calamity, + displease(-ure), distress, evil((- favouredness), man, thing), + exceedingly, X great, grief(-vous), harm, heavy, hurt(-ful), ill (favoured), + mark, mischief(-vous), misery, naught(-ty), noisome, + not please, sad(-ly), sore, sorrow, trouble, vex, wicked(-ly, -ness, one), worse(-st), wretchedness, wrong. (Incl. Feminine raaah; as adjective or noun.).

(As a side bar before I continue, I find it interesting that the transliteration for Ra is the same name for the Egyptian sun god.)

I hate generalizations but I would venture to say that most people think of evil like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart defined pornography, “I know it when I see it.” concurring opinion in Jacobellis v. Ohio 378 U.S. 184 (1964). For example, most people I think would define Satanic worship as evil. However, common agreement regarding what is evil gets murky when we talk about things like using curse words, drinking, or listening to secular music. Certainly one could make the argument that based on the definition of evil in Proverbs 8:13, that using curse words, smoking, or listening to secular music. Moreover, I have noticed people say things to the effect of, “I can do X because it doesn’t negatively impact me the way it would someone else who is either spiritually less mature or is more sensitive to X.” As a believer, that argument never really sat well with me. I think that if you believe or know that something is wrong, its wrongness isn’t mitigated by the fact that you think it doesn’t impact you.

Now let’s assume that we all agree that a certain activity is wrong, e.g. using curse words. When you hear a co-worker or a friend use a curse word, do you feel hate? Just think about it for a second. I would imagine that if you hated someone or something, your blood would boil if that person or thing was in your presence. You would either have to say something to check the situation or leave. Either way, business as usual would no longer be a viable option. So again, someone curses in front of you. Do you hate the fact that they cursed around? Let me speak freely. I can honestly say I don’t hate it. Of course if someone is cursing every other word then yeah, I will get annoyed and politely request that they use more appropriate language. But annoyed, even highly annoyed does not amount to hate. And therein lies the rub. Learning to hate evil.

For me, the best strategy to learn to hate is to learn the truth. Using a non-spiritual example, when I learned the truth about how unhealthy fast-food really is, my consumption of it dropped precipitously where now, I only eat it if there is no other option available and for some elongated period of time. I hate to equate fast-food to sin but how many of you had a more narrow definition of evil as it used in Proverbs 8:13? I did. And now the process begins again of evaluating the bad things I don’t hate and asking myself why. I suggest you do to the same.

A little food for thought.

Stay up fam,

Brandon Q.

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