The New England Patriots survived with a win last night against the Tampa Bay Bucs 19-14. Although this was an important game for the Bucs, their kicker missing three field goals proved to be costly.

The Patriots-Bucs’ matchup didn’t live up to the hype, but I was able to take away a great quote worth unpacking today.

Bucs’ key defensive lineman, Gerald McCoy, was interviewed by CBS’ Tracy Wolfson before the game, and was talking about the Patriots coming into Tampa as the Super Bowl Champs.

McCoy made this profound statement: “You respect ’em, but you don’t fear ’em.”

This kind of mindset is very important when you consider a player’s mental perspective before a game. How he views the opponent factors into his preparation and intensity.

A team can lose when they don’t take the other team seriously because they lack respect…and they can lose when the fear is so great they don’t think they can win.

In sports, players need to learn the positives and negatives of respect and fear. As followers of Jesus, we need to grasp how our lives can change for the better when we have a proper view of both respecting and fearing God.

Instead of having only a limited respect for God’s power, we must revere His majesty as the sovereign Creator of the universe.

Instead of thinking we can never win, or fearing that He’s going to punish us at every turn, we must understand His unconditional love…and trust His discipline is because of that love.

Instead of only focusing on God’s incredible grace and doing whatever we want, we must respect His holiness and the justice needed for our sin. Because Jesus paid the price, our fear of the Lord should be filled with awe and adoration leading to dependence and obedience.

The Bible gives us a clear picture of what it means to correctly respect and fear God.

Proverbs 1:7 (AMP) explains: The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] is the beginning and the preeminent part of knowledge [its starting point and its essence]; but arrogant fools despise [skillful and godly] wisdom and instruction and self-discipline.”

When we embrace who God is, and that He’s given us grace, love, Holiness, and justice, we are led to a worshipful heart that gives Him our highest respect.

When we take His Almighty Word seriously and know we don’t deserve His grace, we have a healthy fear that leads us to pleasing Him and honoring Him in the way we live our lives.

Proverbs 22:4 (AMP) promises that “The reward of humility [that is, having a realistic view of one’s importance] and the [reverent, worshipful] fear of the Lord is riches, honor, and life.”

Today, let’s take Gerald McCoy’s words about the Patriots a step further. Let’s respect and fear our God who loves us and made a way for us to know Him.

I’m Bryce Johnson and you can unpack that!

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, You are worthy to be praised. I’m in awe of Your power and love. I pray I would have the proper understanding of what it means to respect and fear You, and that my life would be a reflection of this. I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.