In our previous posts (see part 1 and part 2) on emotional intelligence and wisdom we have concluded with the following quotes from the Old Testament book of Proverbs using the Message translation of the original Hebrew:

“Start with God – the first step in learning is bowing down to God; only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning.” (1:7)

“A simple life in the Fear-of-God is better than a rich life with a ton of headache.” (15:16)

‘Fear-of-God is a school in skilled living – first you learn humility, then you experience glory.” (15:33)


These short succinct quotes are like ‘tweets’ from God!

The first quote is translated in the New International Version in English as:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

From the Scripture a clear link is made between the fear of God and the preliminary first steps in wisdom or emotional intelligence. We previously defined wisdom as capability in the complexities of life when the rules don’t help. 

Wisdom is skill in the art of living. We can appreciate and applaud the skill of an athlete or a football or cricket player, but just as much preparation and skill is needed to develop in the art of living life with all its complexities and challenges. And how much more so in our media saturated and technologically driven world?

But what is the place of fear?

It seems such an odd word to use. Is this an example of God being a tyrant forcing us to bend to His rules and requirements?

A much better understanding of godly fear is found in the following succinct and potent definitions from Tim Keller:

wonder filled bold humility.

The combination of boldness and humility seems strange, but ti powerfully sums up the kind of life that results when I am able to balance the power, magnificence and majesty of God with the realisation that in Christ I am completely loved and accepted. As I grow in that realisation, then I am less preoccupied with what others think of me and free to grow in God’s calling on my life. I can be both humble and bold at the same time.

being afraid of what life would be like without Him and being grateful that because of His love we will never have to face such despair (there is more on this under the posts entitled A Day That Changed The World and 4 Personal Implications of the Resurrection.)

Hungering for all that God is and all that He has for us.

Defining fear in such terms is life-transforming and opens us up to an incredible world of opportunities and possibilities. It takes the focus off myself and my petty concerns, and brings about a healthy respect for myself and the world I find myself in. I am not a random piece of humanity, but I am intricately connected to others from the past, present and future. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. My life and your life, ordinary as it may appear on the surface has intrinsic value and purpose.

I return to the following comments by C.S. Lewis that powerfully illustrate this appropriate godly fear:

“It is a serious thing to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talked to may one day be a creature which if you saw it now you would strongly be tempted to worship or else a horror and corruption such as you now meet if at all only in a nightmare. All day long we are in some degrees helping each other to one of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all love, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nature, culture, art, civilisation. These are mortal and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat.”

How do you bring together these concepts of wisdom, emotional intelligence and an appropriate level of Godly fear?

Please feel free to leave your thoughts below.