Out of Reverence for God
The Pharisees created detailed lists of acceptable behavior for those who wanted to follow God. But Jesus was not impressed. He said to them, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are" Matthew 23:15.
Compared to the Pharisees, Nehemiah had a simple standard of behavior, "But out of reverence for God I did not act like that" (Nehemiah 5:15). No long-winded lists, no legalistic attitude but a sincere reverence for God. He wanted to please God in the way he lived, out of a sense of gratitude not obligation.
We may have different ideas about what constitutes "reverence for God" and these ideas may vary from culture to culture, but what God is looking for is our heart attitude. Are we seeking to please him? It does not concern God so much what we do, as to why we do it.
The Psalmist describes this reverence as "the fear of the Lord." This fear is not a fear of what God will do to us if we disobey, but rather it is a high regard for God and his ways.
It is also described as the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10). God does not want us obeying simply to earn "brownie points" or to avoid punishment. However, he does want us to obey him, trusting his wisdom and believing that he knows what is best for us.
Our attitude should be one of living in a way that is pleasing to him, out of reverence, not adhering to lists of rights and wrongs, out of duty.
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