But out of reverence for God I did not act like that. Nehemiah 5:15
The Pharisees created detailed lists of acceptable behaviour for those who wanted to follow God. Jesus wasn’t 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
Nehemiah had a simple standard of behaviour, “out of reverence for God.” 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 at is our heart attitude. Are we seeking to please him? It doesn’t concern God so much what we do as to why we do it.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding” (Psalm 111:10). The “fear of the Lord” isn’t a fear of what God will do to us if we disobey but rather it’s a “reverence.” God doesn’t want us obeying him to earn “brownie points” or to avoid punishment. He does want us to obey God, out of respect for his omniscience, believing that he indeed does know what’s best for us.
Our attitude should be one of living in a way that is pleasing to him, remembering his precepts are for our benefit.