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Fulton County Gospel News

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Reverence in an Irreverent World

By Larry Powers

Are the people of the world displaying irreverence toward God?  Have there always been some that displayed irreverence toward God and His Word?  How is it possible to display reverence in an irreverent world?  Have there always been some that displayed reverence toward God and His world?  These are a few questions that need to be answered to help God’s people continue to display reverence in an irreverent world.

Are people of the world today exhibiting irreverence toward God?  Many of the laws of the land are exposing just how irreverent people are today.  When the law of the land does not allow the Bible to be read in public schools irreverence is being established. When the law of the land allows abortion, “same sex-marriage,” divorce for any reason, gambling, etc. irreverence is expressed.

The Bible describes that many people have always shown irreverence toward God.  Before the flood man was wicked and his thinking was evil continually (Gen. 6:5).  The men of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah showed their irreverence toward God by practicing sodomy, which today is called homosexuality (Gen. 19; Jude 7).  The Jewish leaders showed their irreverence toward God by crucifying the Son of God.  Many people of the first century showed irreverence toward God because they did not love the truth (2 The. 2:10-12).

How is it possible today to display reverence toward God in an irreverent world?  To help answer this question one must know the meaning of the word “reverence.”  The dictionary defines “reverence” as “respect mixed with love and awe … a sign of respect … to respect and honor a person or thing.”  But the important definition comes from the Bible.  The word “reverence” is found thirteen times in the Bible (seven times in the Old Testament and six times in the New Testament).  The word “reverence” is found for the first time in the book of Leviticus.  “Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD” (Lev. 19:30).  This word means “to fear, to venerate, religiously to reverence … to bow down the head or body in token of reverence” (Wilson’s Old Testament Studies).  The first time this word “reverence” is found in the New Testament is in the book of Matthew.  “But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son” (Matt. 21:37). This word means “to turn about … to reverence” (Thayer).  This word is translated “reverence” four times (Matt. 21:37; Mk. 12:6; Lk. 20:13; Heb. 12:9). This word is also translated “regard” (Lk. 18:2, 4), “be ashamed” (2 The. 3:14; Titus 2:8), and “shame” (1 Cor. 4:14).  Therefore this word must be understood in its context.  There is another word translated “reverence” in the New Testament.  “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Heb. 12:28).  This word means “modesty, an innate moral repugnance to a dishonorable act … the grief which a man conceives from his own imperfections considered with relation to the world taking notice of them; grief upon the sense of disesteem” (Zodhiates).  This word is translated “reverence” one time (Heb. 12:28) and “shamefacedness” one time (1 Tim. 2:9).  Therefore, people today can and must display their reverence toward God by the life they live.

There have always been some that revealed reverence toward God.  Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Gen. 6:8), thus Noah revealed his reverence toward God by doing all that God commanded him (Gen. 6:22).  Abraham revealed his reverence toward God by following God’s commands, leaving his homeland and following God to a new land, a land of promise (Gen. 12:1-3).  Lot was called a just man and a righteous man (2 Pet. 2:7-8).  Lot revealed reverence by the way he lived, even while surrounded by filthy conversation and unlawful deeds.

What kind of life displays reverence toward God in an irreverent world?  The Christian life displays reverence toward God because to become a Christian requires submission to God.  One submits to God by being obedient to the Gospel of Christ.  One who submits to God has been baptized for the remission of his sins and thus goes forth displaying to others that he is walking a new course, “walking in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4).  The Hebrew writer, Paul, lets Christians know that there is a kingdom that cannot be moved (Heb. 12:28).  This Kingdom is the Church for which Jesus died; which Jesus promised to build (Matt. 16:18-19); which was presented on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), the church of Christ.  Therefore to display reverence requires that a Christian walk in accordance with the Word of God.  Children of God are to walk in the footsteps of the Savior (Eph. 5:1).  Children of God are to walk in love (Eph. 5:2). Children of God are to walk in the light (Eph. 5:8-10). This walk of the Christian, the child of God, is to signify the whole sphere of the activities of the Christian life.  A Christian’s life should thus exhibit the pure, beautiful, noble, and good thus revealing reverence in an irreverent world.

Larry preaches for the Sharon church of Christ in Sharon, TN

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