Your IQ is your intelligent quotient, but do you know what your RQ—your reverence quotient—is?
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 3:14)
It is important to understand the culture we live in, because our culture impacts, to an amazing degree, our attitudes and how we behave. Yet the West in the twenty-first century is remarkably jaded and irreverent as a whole. Sometimes it seems like the entire entertainment industry—from comedies such as Saturday Night Live to movies and TV—portray a know-it-all-I’m-the-best-there-is attitude of irreverence. Add the evolutionary worldview taught in our schools and we are predisposed, as a people, to arrogance. Yet is this as it ought to be? Let’s take a look at how God feels about arrogance:
“But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” (James 4:16)
“I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.” (Isaiah 13:11)
“…pride and arrogance and the evil way, and the perverse mouth I hate.” (Proverbs 8:13)
“Talk no more so very proudly; let no arrogance come from your mouth, for the LORD is the God of knowledge; and by Him actions are weighed.” (I Samuel 2:3)
We are created, redeemed, sustained by God, and are accountable to Him for our very attitudes. Arrogance is an abomination to Him, and we are not to exhibit it. We are, on the other hand, taught to be reverent:
“God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be held in reverence by all those around Him.” (Psalm 89:7)
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” (Hebrews 12:28)
“In all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.” (Titus 2:7-8)
“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.” (I Timothy 2:1-3)
Another quality that goes hand in hand with reverence is godly fear—which involves a recognition of who God truly is and our accountability before Him:
“The LORD of hosts, Him you shall hallow; let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.” (Isaiah 8:13)
“…God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” (Acts 10:34-35)
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
Yet many people neither fear God nor are reverent. We should not be surprised, because this is the norm; these are the character qualities of the sinful, unregenerate nature in rebellion to God and unwilling to accept His authority over us. Romans 3:10-18 describes the natural human condition:
“There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-18)
It is interesting to observe that earlier in the world’s history much of the natural world was unexplored and cultures struggled with fearing pagan deities who are not gods. Today, in the days of remarkable advances in the sciences, mankind struggles with fearing nothing, including the One who is to be feared. But what happens when people no longer fear God?
“Your own wickedness will correct you, And your backslidings will rebuke you. Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing That you have forsaken the Lord your God, And the fear of Me is not in you,” Says the Lord God of hosts.” (Jeremiah 2:19)
“But this people has a defiant and rebellious heart; They have revolted and departed. They do not say in their heart, “Let us now fear the Lord our God, Who gives rain, both the former and the latter, in its season. He reserves for us the appointed weeks of the harvest.” Your iniquities have turned these things away, And your sins have withheld good from you.” (Jeremiah 5:23-25)
Whether we acknowledge it or not, every good thing comes from God. James 1:17 tells us that,“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” We know, furthermore, that He is the One who keeps everything going:
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Hebrews 1:1-3)
So what should we do? We must be diligent and recognize the influence of our culture on us—its power to cause us to be arrogant or adopt an irreverent attitude toward God—and consciously make an effort to remain in Christ as we are commanded. In practical terms, this means to faithfully immerse ourselves in the Word of God, the Bible, so God can change our wrong way of thinking to one that more rightly represents an attitude worthy of those who claim to love and follow Him!
Help us to serve You acceptably, with reverence and godly fear, that we may “become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom…[we] shine as lights in the world.” (Philippians 2:15) Amen.