27 The fear of the Lord prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.
Sin is destructive. Those who do not fear God are often immersed in sinful living, so it is generally true that those who fear God will live longer lives.
There are obvious cause-effect examples we can think of. If someone is overtaken by drugs and alcohol, they could shorten their lives. If someone has trouble with overeating or over-indulgence in unhealthy food, they could shorten their lives.
There are other cause-effect examples that might not seem so obvious, like stress for example. Stress is a killer. Stress causes your body to release chemicals that wear down your mind and your body, leading to emotional distress, sleep problems, inflamed joints, stomach trouble, and more. I know from experience.
What does this have to do with sin?
If we fear things of this life more than we fear God, we are in sin. We make our troubles bigger in our minds and hearts than God is. Fear of things in this life also reveals a weak spot in our faith.
As Christians, we know that God is in control of our lives, and if we are His servants, all things are working together for our good. Even the hard things. Especially the hard things.
Sometimes we need to learn patience. Sometimes we need to prioritize our lives differently. Sometimes we need to stop trusting in man, even when dealing with those fundamental relationships in life with people we feel we should be able to trust in. This includes ourselves. Sometimes we think that if we just try hard enough, we can handle anything.
Letting go of fear of the cares of this life is challenging for many people. Learning to trust in God and not man is challenging for many people. However, these things lead to stress and a life of stress is sure to be shortened. I’m only in my 30s and I feel very old. My body feels old. My mind feels old. I chalk it all up to fearing the wrong things. Trusting the wrong things. The more I learn to “let go and let God” as people like to say, the better I feel.
I don’t usually like to write about myself in the Proverbs writings, but I thought I should this time. If you have a story to share about how fear of the Lord affects your life, please leave a reply below.
Now that we’ve considered some cause-effect examples, what else might we think of?
God could bring destruction on a person, people, or nation that does not fear Him simply because it is right. There could be several cause-effect lines we can draw, but not necessarily.
I also think about the early death of the righteous. Sometimes people die early, not because of sin, but because they are obedient. There is a scripture that comes to mind.
“The righteous perish, and no man lays it to heart. Merciful men are taken away, and none consider that the righteous are taken away from the evil to come.”
I believe that in God’s mercy, He will take many believers before the greatest time of temptation is upon us. He will spare them by having their lives taken from them. I think many will say that these were killed because they were disobedient, forsaken, or throw some other accusation at them. This verse will be good to remember for those who remain, and in this time also. Sometimes seemingly bad things happen, not because of any wrong we have done, but because God is at work.
So, when we suffer or see someone else suffer, we cannot assume that it is the result of sin. If they are believers, it will always be an act of grace. If it is chastisement, it is grace. If it is suffering for righteousness’ sake, it is grace.
We should try to see our brethren in the best light while also knowing that there are many false among us—especially in the realm of “principalities, powers, and rulers of darkness in high places.” These do not fear God and they will be destroyed, and I sincerely believe and hope that many who are caught up in these will be spared.
None the less, in the end we all face death. We should not fear death. We should fear the One who has “the keys of hell and death.” Jesus Christ.
This is part of a series of articles considering the Proverbs from a Christian mindset and applying these lessons to present-day events. You can find all of the Considering Proverbs writings here. Subscribe to receive future posts by email.