It was Franklin D. Roosevelt who said, “We have nothing to fear except fear itself.” Well, fear can freeze you in your tracks or it can be a powerful motivation to action.
Fear is one of the strongest emotions we can experience. Sometimes it can be very controlling. It can bind us up and make us inactive. But on the other hand, it can drive us to do things we would not normally do. Now that’s the idea behind the verse in Ephesians 5:21, which says, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” You see, Paul is saying that the fear of God ought to motivate us to do what we would not normally do — “Submit ourselves to one another.”
The word “fear” is the Greek word from which we get our English word “phobia.” It’s a word that means “alarm, or terror, or fright.” But it can also mean “reverence or respect,” in that people usually have a healthy respect for that which they fear. If I fear fire (pyrophobia), I will respect fire and treat it with extreme caution.
Well, that’s what Paul is saying in this verse. If I fear God, I will have a healthy respect for Him and seek to do what He tells me to do. I won’t even think twice about it – if I fear Him I will submit myself to others right now because God said that I should.
Probably the reasons Christians are so apathetic toward the commands of God and even downright disobedient, is that we no longer have a fear of God. We know that we are forgiven in Christ, and are no longer condemned to hell. So – the fire is taken out of God, and we are no longer afraid of Him. But God is a consuming fire, and perhaps we need to be a little more awed with God so that we take what He says seriously. “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”
Hey! You may not see the fire in God’s eyes, but He will hold you accountable for what He says.