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God fear and good fear

God fear and good fear

Explain to your children the difference between fearing God (wow fear), fearing harm (wise fear) and unreasonable fear (boo fear).

Discussion point: Fearing God means to have a deep respect and appreciation for Him.

Set some time aside to explain to your children the difference between fearing God (wow fear), fearing harm (wise fear) and unreasonable fear (boo fear). The explanations below will help:

Wow fear
Fearing God means to have a deep respect and appreciation for Him. Let’s call it wow fear. We can feel wow fear when we see beautiful scenes in nature, are fascinated by things God has made, or hear stories about God and the miracles He has done. Wow fear applies to any time we are in awe of God, respecting Him as the Creator and Lord of the Universe.

Wise fear
Another kind of fear happens when we sense danger or when we know something can harm us. This is fear that is wise. It’s wise to be wary around things that can hurt you. Some examples include fear of wild animals, or power tools, or fire, or heights or water. God gave us this kind of fear to keep us safe. 

Boo fear
On the other hand, fear that is out of control is not good fear. When we are fearful of something that is not truly harmful, that’s boo fear. For example, when we go boating, wise fear of water reminds us to wear a life jacket so we will stay afloat if the boat tips over. However, when a person has boo fear, they may be afraid to go near water at all. When out-of-control fear limits our choices and actions, we can ask God to provide confidence and peace.

Once your kids have a good understanding of wow fear, wise fear and boo fear, play this simple game where you suggest scenarios and your children identify the type of fear involved. As your children understand the idea of the game, allow them to think of examples as well. Here are some ideas for starters:

  • Moses removed his sandals in front of the burning bush. (Wow fear)
  • While walking the woods, a family sees a moose in the distance and retreats back along the trail. (Wise fear)
  • On a family hike, Stephanie's family comes to a high swing bridge. Stephanie doesn't want to cross because she’s afraid the bridge will break. (Boo fear)
  • Jesse is afraid to go to the dentist to get his teeth cleaned. (Boo fear)
  • A boy named Eutychus was killed when he fell out of a window and Paul raised him from the dead (Acts 20:7-12). (Wow fear)
  • Jake won't use felt-tip markers because he is afraid the smell of the ink will hurt him. (Boo fear)
  • Mandy doesn't talk to strangers unless her parents are with her. (Wise fear)
  • Kids are climbing on some equipment at a construction site. Even though it looks fun, Lucas doesn't join in. (Wise fear)
  • Carlie is afraid to go to a friend's house to play because they have a dog. (Boo fear)
  • There is a sunset that makes the clouds look like pink and purple cotton candy. (Wow fear)
  • A friend has a new puppy and you get to cuddle him. (Wow fear)
  • There is a bonfire blazing out of control in the park. (Wise fear)
Questions for discussion
  • Is there something you’re afraid of?
  • Is it boo fear or wise fear?
  • Do you want to ask God to give you peace about any fears you have?
  • What could remind you to ask God to give you courage and confidence when you are afraid?
Relevant Scripture

Psalm 92:4 “For You, O Lord, have made me glad by Your work; at the works of Your hands I sing for joy.

Psalm 121:2 “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.