“Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider what great things he hath done for you.” (1 Samuel 12:24)
This verse utilizes simplicity to speak profundity, always a winning combination, to my way of thinking. It has always been a “true north” on the compass of life for me. Shall I tell you why?
“Only fear the Lord…” If we feared no one but God, what worry and frustration we would save ourselves. Peer pressure can lead to peer paralysis, and many of us are unaware of this phenomenon in our own lives, because it is never challenged. I never knew just how strong my fear of water really was until I started taking swimming lessons. Until we attempt to act in spite of our fears, we never realize what a hold they have on us; and it is when we dare to follow God instead of our social or spiritual peers that we realize what a power they wield in our lives. Only when we substitute the fear of God for the fear of man do we experience liberation.
“…serve him in truth with all your heart…” These are the two great guidelines for serving God effectively. First, our service must be rooted in the truth of God’s Word, and carried out according to the principles laid out within its pages. It may be better to do “the right thing in the wrong way,” instead of the other way around…but not by much, and certainly not for long. As we mature Spiritually, so should our service to God. Second, half-hearted service reaps half-hearted results. Serving God with all our heart is more important than serving Him with all our might, because energy may flicker, but enthusiasm can burn all the way to Heaven!
“…for consider what great things he hath done for you.” Finally, we are reminded of the Christian’s great motivation: All we are, and all we have, are gifts from God. The very air we breathe comes from the nostrils of the Creator. He holds our lives in His hands, and, as Paul says, “He that spared not his own Son…how shall he not with him also freely give us all things” (Rom.8:32). If He’s given His best, will He spare the rest? When we truly consider this, it is easy to understand why we should “only fear God,” and why we should “serve him in truth with all [our] hearts.” Above all things and all others, “consider him” (Heb. 12:3).