Reverence may be defined as a solemn, awesome and holy feeling and attitude toward God and Christ. The quality in God and Christ that especially calls forth our reverence is Their majesty. They are majestic in Their persons, attributes of being, appellations, characters, offices, reputations, honors, words and works.
Reverence first expresses itself in thought and feeling. The reverential person will exercise great care that irreverential thoughts and feelings find no lodgment in their hearts and minds, and primarily seeks to think of and feel reverentially toward God and Christ. This done, care should be taken to avoid, abhor and oppose all irreverential words and acts and to speak reverential words and exercise reverential acts.
The Ingredients of Reverence
(1.) Faith is the basis of reverence, hence it is a source as well as a part of reverence.
(2.) Piety – duty love, thankful good will, or gratitude to God. Gratitude to God with all the heart, mind, soul and strength for the good that He has done for us is the heart of piety and is what duty love to God implies.
(3.) Veneration may flow out of duty love and out of disinterested, unselfish love. Love in its wider sense may be defined as good will. Duty love is the good will prompted by justice, the good will by right we owe to others; and disinterested, unselfish love is the good will that, apart from obligation is given out of a delight in good principles, and goes out to others in appreciation, heart’s oneness, sympathy or pity and self-sacrificial service. That part of veneration which is produced by duty love is the part of it that flows from piety. The other part of veneration and reverence’s other higher features flow out of disinterested, unselfish love, which gives God and Christ the fullest and most feelingful part of veneration, the part that very highly respects Them.
(4.) An appreciation which delights supremely in God and Christ as the greatest examples of harmony with good principles.
(5.) A solemn and holy awe of God and Christ, which is experienced when, contrasted with the sense of our littleness, the sense of the majesty of God and Christ in Their persons, attributes of being, characters, appellations, offices, reputations, honors, words and works fills one’s heart and mind.
(6.) Adoration is the highest single feeling of which a creature is capable; for it makes us for the time being lose the sense of everything else while it pours out its feeling in the highest and holiest emotions of worship and praise of God and Christ.
(7.) A compound of such graces as faith, piety, veneration, appreciation, awe and adoration find serviceable in expressing their combined feelings toward God and Christ.
Repressing and Suppressing Reverence
But reverence, once cultivated, may be repressed and suppressed. A life of sin is the surest way to repress and suppress reverence. Error of all kinds is another source of repressing and suppressing reverence. The spirit of selfishness will turn us away from reverence. Certainly the spirit of the world is now far from a reverent one, and is largely responsible for an ever-increasing irreverence. The companionship of the wicked and engrossment in secular business, pleasure, indulgence and ambitions, likewise destroy the spirit of reverence and spread irreverence. Most television and radio programs, motion pictures, books and magazines of our day display more or less irreverence and so instill and spread it. Neglect of private and public worship, or home and church study of the Word and of the spread and practice of the Word are also destructive of the spirit of reverence. Let us set ourselves against all of these ways of repressing and suppressing reverence.
The Testing of Reverence
Our reverence will be tested. The Lord will allow Satan, the world and the flesh to operate against us every one of the means of its repression and suppression. They intend our overthrow, but He intends to furnish us conditions requiring such resistance on our part as, being exercised faithfully, will greatly strengthen, balance and perfect our reverence. But blessed are we, if we overcome therein; for thereby we will advance toward an all-around overcoming, retain one of the finest of all graces, be enriched in our present knowledge and character acquisitions, and be better qualified for our present and future work.