Proverbs 1:7 says, “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” Not only does the Bible promise it will make us smart; fearing God is also how we avoid the destruction of following the wrong crowd.

Back in my day, discipline was a lot different than it is today. I mean, my dad had some forms of discipline that would run the risk of a father getting arrested in today’s world. (I’m kidding. Sort of.) But boy, did I despise that discipline. My dad would even say something like, “Son, this is going to hurt me a lot more than it hurts you,” and I was thinking, Yeah, okay, why don’t you give me that belt and let’s just see?  But now that I’m older, I realize it was only his tough discipline that kept me off certain paths.

When I was in school, sometimes my buddies would ask me to do some really crazy stuff. I would think to myself, Are you kidding me? Do you even know my dad? Do you realize what he would do to me if he found out?

Many of you know what I’m talking about. You know what that fear is. It isn’t that you were afraid of your dad. You knew he would do anything for you, but God help you if you did something blatantly wicked. There conscious knowledge your dad would follow through on some serious discipline that would leave you hurting for weeks, in one way or another. That right there, my friends, is the fear of God. My dad put the fear of God in me. Simply defined, it’s a way of realizing there is nowhere I can go that God isn’t there. There’s nothing I can do that He won’t know about.

Now, there are those who are not God’s children (no, we’re not all God’s children, as Jesus explains to the religious leaders of his day in John 8:44.) Those who are not God’s children continue to do their wickedness, and we find ourselves wondering why they aren’t disciplined. As my dad would say when another kid was acting up, “That’s not my child. You’re my child, and I discipline you because you’re mine.” In this way, the fear of God is knowing who He is and how awesome He is. It’s realizing we cannot even fathom the love He has for us. It is God filling the void in our hearts, that need to be loved and accepted.

The fear of God is also knowing that what your Heavenly Father thinks about you matters infinitely more than what anyone else thinks. Too often, we shun the fear of God for the acceptance of the world. We’re foolish, despising discipline and trying to pretend God is not there. So many of us have lived this way, and Satan simply uses that to manipulate us, to take us down that road to destruction. But the fear of God changes all of that. When you fear God, you know He is your Heavenly Father, and you know you belong to Him. This knowledge is the beginning of wisdom in your life, and it is the first step to putting you on the right path.

If you’d like to read more about making wise decisions in life and avoiding pitfalls, click here.