A Precious Quality
“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name” (Luke 11:2). — Adapted from an article in the December, 1942 Dawn Magazine
Reverence is a “profound respect mingled with fear and affection, as for a holy being or place, or an exalted thing.” This is consistent with the meaning of the various Hebrew and Greek words used in the Bible to describe the proper attitude we should have toward our Heavenly Father. In our opening text the Greek word rendered “hallowed” means to be venerated or revered. Thus, in giving us the model prayer of which our theme text is a part, our Master emphasized the importance of proper reverence when we approach the throne of heavenly grace. This proper reverence in prayer should be manifest in all we say and do. Indeed, prayer itself should reflect our Christian desire and endeavor.
There is an element of respectful fear in true reverence for God. However, a proper understanding and heart appreciation of the love and mercy of God provides no reason for dread. Fear, in the sense of fright, or dread, is “taught by the precept of men” (Isaiah 29:13).
Our fear, therefore, is more of a sober examination of ourselves to be sure we are striving to the best of our ability to know and do the will of God. The Apostle Paul said, “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it” (Hebrews 4:1).
Reverence in Worship
We are not to fear God as vengeful or vindictive. However, our love and respect for Him, our reverence for Him, should restrain us from conduct unbecoming as His child. Natural Israel had this lesson impressed upon them, and spiritual Israel should not be less sober and reverent in their devotions. Ecclesiastes 5:1 reads, “Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.”
To natural Israel, the “house of God” was the temple, or sanctuary, where, through the priests, God met with them. In the case of spiritual Israel there are two viewpoints of God’s house, and the spirit of reverence is important with respect to both. In the larger picture, all the footstep followers of Jesus constitute God’s house, each individual constituting a living stone in it (1 Corinthians 3:16,17, 2 Corinthians 6:16). In a narrower sense, God’s house is the formal assembly of his people, where, even if only two or three gather, they have an assurance of the divine presence (Matthew 18:20, Luke 24:13‑32). Here also the spirit of reverence is vitally important to proper Christian growth, and to obtain the largest possible blessing. (Matthew 21:13, 1 Corinthians 14:40, 1 Timothy 3:15).
Israel was admonished to have great reverence for the Temple of God. Consequently, the devout cherished even the stone in that symbolic building. Should not we maintain a similar attitude toward the “living stones” in God’s spiritual temple of this age? (Ephesians 2:19‑22, 1 Peter 2:5, Revised Version). Such reverence means that in our associations with the brotherhood of Christ we will conduct ourselves in a manner pleasing to God, with the view of being the greatest possible blessing to one another.
This means that our viewpoint as Christians cannot properly be a selfish, self‑centered one. Each of us has an individual standing with God. However, our place in the divine arrangement is also that of one living stone among others, so that God’s will for us blends into his will for the others. God does not make a separate plan for each one, to fit with our whims and wishes. His plan is for the entire temple class. Our individual standing is in connection with the place he has for us in His temple. Keeping this in view will help us better appreciate our fellow members of the “body of Christ,” and more earnestly serve God’s will in our association with them (1 Corinthians 12:12,27). We wish to share the blessings of divine grace that God has for all the temple class.
The Whole Counsel of God
“The reverent fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalms 111:10, Amplified Bible). Realizing our lack of wisdom, and willing to receive instruction from God through His Word, we expect to progress in the narrow way that leads to life. If we truly reverence God, we will want to be taught of Him — not in a few things, but in all things. This means that we should gladly set aside our plans, and those of others, and instead accept our Father’s plan for us. We do this gladly, knowing that by obedience to every word from God we may please Him whom we love and worship.
Viewed thus, reverence is not only the beginning of wisdom, but also the completion of wisdom. To whatever extent we fail to heed His Word, to that extent we will fail to attain the understanding “from above.” This wisdom is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17). If for self‑interest we sacrifice purity in thought, word, or deed, we lack proper reverence for God and for His principles.
The psalmist expresses proper reverence, saying, “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship [Hebrew: bow down, reverence] the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (Psalms 29:2). Giving to God His due means obedience to His instruction to the best of our ability. In a sense, we “tremble with awe‑filled reverence at His word” (Isaiah 66:5, Amplified). The divine will should regulate the details in our lives. Lack of respect for any part of it suggests that we are not in harmony with God in some way — and out of harmony with His people.
Human reasoning frequently seeks excuses for not obeying this or that detail of the divine will. Perhaps the human mind assumes that God will make exceptions for us. However, it is irreverent to yield to that thought. God will not prevent us from trials or loss accruing from such disobedience.
Decorum in the Church
The church of God includes His people throughout the earth. Yet, from another standpoint, each assembly is looked upon by God as the church. Thus, reverence in the house of God includes proper conduct while enjoying the blessings of these assemblies. Many of us could doubtless be more watchful along this line to the mutual helpfulness of all. Having not the fear of torment, as some Christians retain, being brought into the liberty of Christ, let us be watchful that we do not become irreverent in these blessings. “Use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13, see also verses 14, 15).
Jesus promised to meet with his people when they gather in his name (Matthew 18:20). In reverence for his presence, our conduct should be with dignity and soberness when meeting with his people. We should avoid any carelessness in spirit that would be disrespectful to the Lord.
The Bible does not present a list of rules to follow in these matters, other than general advice: “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). A spirit of reverence will lead us, upon entering a room where a meeting is to be held, to greet brethren respectfully and joyfully as time permits, and then to quietly take our seats, attentively ready for the opening remarks.
Many years ago, a servant of the Lord penned the following wise words for us to consider.
● “Order is heaven=s first law. We lack reverence for our Heavenly Father and for our Master if we are less prompt in the Lord’s affairs than we are in our own.”
● “Reverence is very becoming, since we have lost the fear that God will cast us into eternal torment.”
● “Decorum is necessary in every place where God is worshipped.”
● “We have God in the church today in a sense that he never was in Israel’s Temple. Wherever there is a meeting of the members of the church, the Lord has declared that he will be there.”
● “Wherever God’s people meet, that building is made a holy place. Therefore, whoever approaches it should do so with a watchfulness of his feet. He should be ready to hear — to listen. All conversation should be of a kind that would edify, or build up, along spiritual lines. Whatever conversation be carried on, it should be with reverence, not merely for the place, but for the occasion.”
● “The Lord wants the quality of reverence to grow strong. We should show that our endeavors to do the Lord’s will are equal to the desires of our hearts. We are required to manifest character.”
● “When godly fear is banished, the tendency is to less reverence. Special care in this respect is necessary.”
● “Whoever has not learned the primary lesson of reverence, has not made a proper start in his worship and service.”
● “If we are indifferent to the rights of others, we manifest that we are lacking in the spirit of love — the spirit of God.”
● “Let us not only desire to do the Lord’s will, but to do it his way by hearkening to the statements of his Word. Let us be among those who are careful to note and follow the Word of the Lord in every matter.”
● “God now tests our professions of love and devotion and obedience most thoroughly by some of the smallest matters. No act of respect or obedience is too small. We should have the spirit of obedience.”
Whatever form the meeting may take, the one who conducts it represents our Lord. Reverence should lead all in such an assembly to show respectful attention to the leader, and the participants. This should be, whether gathering for a discourse, study, testimonies, devotion, or class business. Thoughtfulness adds greatly to the blessings of assembly.
We should be as helpful to others as possible. If a meeting is set aside for prayer, praise, and testimony, it should be used to express briefly what the Heavenly Father has done for us, thank Him for our blessings, and tell of recent experiences of the Lord’s leading and guidance. It is also a time to listen as others express their heart sentiments. Thus, the entire assembly is mutually built up in our “most holy faith” (Jude 20).
Since we should be diligent, adding to our faith virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love, we should also be faithful in the little things by which we contribute to the blessing of the brotherhood (2 Peter 1:5-7). “Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God” suggests care, doing all we can to assist and encourage others (Ecclesiastes 5:1).
Forsake not our assembling together, so much the more as we “see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). If our numbers be smaller than before, “so much the more” give attention to details that make our meetings more blessed, reverential, and pleasing to our Heavenly Father. “
“We, receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and Godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28).
Increasing nervous strain and perplexity upon the world may also affect the Lord’s people. Thus, it is imperative to maintain a dignified spiritual poise in what we say and do. With God’s help, we hope to escape the spirit of the world, which is increasingly irreverent.
Remember that we are the “sons of God,” and “we shall be like” Jesus, “for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself ” (1 John 3:2, 3). Let us conduct ourselves as becoming those who dwell in God’s house. When we pray “Hallowed be thy name,” may this come from a heart bowed in reverence before Him who reigns supreme in our lives.
Draw Me Nearer, Blessed Lord
I am thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,
And it told thy love to me.
But I long to rise in the arms of faith,
And be closer drawn to thee.
Consecrate me now, to thy service, Lord,
By the power of grace divine.
Let my soul look up, with a steadfast hope,
And my will be lost in thine.
O the pure delight of a single hour,
That before thy throne I spend. When I
kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God,
I commune as friend with friend.
There are depths of love that I cannot know,
Till I cross the narrow sea.
There are heights of joy that I may not reach,
Till I rest in peace with thee.