Wednesday, September 18, 2013
FEARING GOD OR LOVING HIM
111:10) and "Happy are those who fear the Lord." I have always struggled with the two: Fear and Love. How can you love and fear at the same time? Doesn't it have to be one or the other? Either I love God in response to his love for me, or I fear Him whose power, might, and wrath can crush me into dust. Are not fear and love two contrasting forms of influence we live with motivating us throughout life, but seemingly incompatible? I like the idea that God is love, holy love. I like thinking about God's love for me and pondering it. The thought of God's love for me is like wrapping myself in a warm blanket with a cup of hot chocolate on a cold, grey day. I found myself pushing away from the idea of fearing a God whose essence is holy love, until this morning.
In my quiet time with the Lord this morning, I pondered the notion of the fear of the Lord being the beginning of wisdom and something that can make me happy. I concluded that I might have the wrong idea about what is meant by the word "fear". With the help of the collection of Bibles on my bookshelf and the notes that accompany scripture I encountered clarity. The fear of the Lord can be understood as respect. As we grow in our walk with God, we may develop so much respect for who God really is in all his power, might, wisdom, compassion, holy love and glory that our respect spills over into worship and obedience. This makes sense to me now. When my children were little, I knew they loved me when they respected me as their father, listened to me, and obeyed my directives.
The Bible is chock-full of God's directives: As you go, make disciples (Matthew 28: 19), Remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love . . . love each other as I have loved you (John 15:9&10). Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8) to name just a few. This morning I had a liberating moment of insight. I rejoice in the love of God who honors us when we slow down and take time to ponder his Word. He gives us insight and deeper understanding of who he is, the God of Holy Love. He increasingly makes himself known and draws us into the intimacy of His continuing revelation.