Dan Trathen DMin, PhD Clinical Psychologist & Certified Business & Life Coach

Burning Out From the Inside II

By Daniel W. Trathen, D. Min. Ph. D.

One of the keys to a growing and lasting relationship with God is to understand Him and to revere Him. We are to have a positional reverence for God that leads to us to obedience because we realize His power and love. This reverence or “fear” for God is the controlling motive of life. He wants us to have a holy desire to please Him because of our reverence for who He is and a wholesome dread of displeasing Him (Vines Expository Dictionary). Our behavior is to be obedient to all we know to be the will of God through a God-given attitude that enables us to respect His authority, worship His holiness, humbly obey His commands, and turn from evil. Such a holy affection is worked into the soul by God through a long and lasting intimate relationship whereby it is inclined and enabled to obey all God’s commands, even the most difficult, and to hate and avoid evil. The focus of our relationship is to love Him, respect Him, honor Him, and seek to please Him in all we do. Charles Spurgeon was once quoted as defining this “fear” as the ability “to pay Him humble, child-like reverence, walk in His laws, have respect for His will, tremble to offend Him, hasten to serve Him, fear Him and nothing else.” The result is that we are to be unmoved by anybody or anything but God. Scripture tells us that the fear of the Lord is a high calling for every believer:

  1. Psalm 147:11-God favors those who fear Him.
  2. Isaiah 11:1-3-Jesus delighted in the fear of the Lord
  3. Jeremiah 32:40-God puts it in our hearts to keep us turned toward Him.
  4. Revelation 14:7, 15:4-It is in heaven and mentioned parallel with glorifying God.

Now that it has been established that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Ps.111:10; Prov. 9:10, 15:33; Job: 28:28; Isa.33:6). Why do so many Christians burn out? One answer is found in the life of Saul. Another is not realizing the blessing from fearing the Lord.

I Samuel 15 recounts that Saul did not fear God as evidenced by his incomplete obedience. Whom did he fear and with what result? “Then Saul said to Samuel. I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the people and so I gave into them.” (I Sam 15:24). Saul was accommodating to the people, but disobedient to God and lost his kingdom and ultimately his mind. May God write this on our hearts with indelible ink! We all need to fear God more than man!

It may be true that knowledge is power and education and intelligence both have their place, but the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It is submission and obedience to God because He is God, not because of the rewards for doing so or the fear of punishment if we don’t. The fear of the Lord is simply to love what God loves and hate what He hates. This is the way to continuous revival. Nothing else will release us from the fear of man.

Prayer is one part of a lifestyle of total obedience to God in every area of life. God requires it to obtain His counsel (Ps. 25:14). In a generation that has trivialized the holiness of God, the fear of the Lord is the way to stay on holy ground. If we are to pray God’s prayers, we must get intimate with Him and let Him give us His mind and heart. The lack of connection with God in prayer creates a draught in our spiritual lives which can result in burn out.

Burning out from the inside is a condition whereby we allow ourselves to fall away from what we know is a true love relationship with God. Our relationship never totally stops, nor does it grow, it goes into a state of dormancy. Like any relationship in this state we allow a lot of dead wood to pile up. Just as we have recently heard countless times lately on T.V., “keep the dry brush at least 100 feet from your house so when the fire progresses, there will be less to burn up.” The lesson learned from the draught and forest fires is that we must take time to clear out the dead wood in our lives both personally and spiritually. Many homes had a greater chance of not burning up when their homeowners heeded this warning. We are not at our best when we are in burnout. Many people are like dry kindling, a little spark can set them off. Incomplete obedience leads to dry and dusty spiritual places. What are some the blessings for those who fear the Lord?

  1. Fruitfulness – Ex. 1:21 Because the midwives feared God (and let the boys live), they were given families of their own.
  2. Keep from sinning – Ex. 20:20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”
  3. Go well with them and their children – Deut. 5:29…their hearts would be inclined to fear and keep all my commands, so that it might go well with them and their children.
  4. Enjoy long life – Deut. 6:2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live… so that you may enjoy long life. See also Prov. 9:10-11, 10:27, 19:23.
  5. Wisdom – Prov. 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the Beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. See also Job 28:28; Ps. 111:10, Prov. 15:33, Isa. 33:6.
  6. God will regard you – Job 37:24 Men revere Him, for does He not have regard for all the wise in heart?
  7. Worship – Heb. 12:28-29 Since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. See also Ps. 5:7.
  8. Instruction by the Lord – Ps. 25:12 Who, then, is the man that fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.
  9. Intimacy with God – Ps. 25:13 The Lord confides in those who fear Him. He makes His covenant known to them.
  10. Goodness – Ps. 31:19 How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you.
  11. Protection, God’s eyes on you – Ps. 33:18-19 The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him and hope in His unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.

There are many reasons why we are to fear the Lord. One of them is to keep from burning out from the inside. Probably one of the most central is to give us a singleness of heart. “I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them.” (Jer. 32:40). May our prayer and experience be that of the Psalmist, “Teach me your way…Give me an undivided heart, so that I may fear your name.” (Ps. 86:11).

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