I had a father who was easygoing. I only remember him losing his temper a few times in my life. He was good at expressing love and joy at being with me, looking for ways to connect with me. If I wanted something, he delighted in providing it if he could. We spent many hours laughing and teasing each other, and sometimes my poor mother felt she had two children on her hands.
In spite of this, I did fear him. I didn’t want to disappoint him or let him down. The few times he did discipline me, I was devastated—not because the punishment was severe, but because I knew our relationship was broken as a result of my behavior.
In many ways, he helped me trust my heavenly Father, but also to fear him. I never want to do anything that will break my relationship with him.
I know my experience is not typical. By and large most people fear their earthly fathers but don’t experience that father’s love. If this is true of you, your challenge as you get to know God is to not throw out the fear of God in search of the love of God. You can have both. And, in fact, to know God as he truly is, you must have both.
But you will have to experience God’s love for you in order to fear him properly. The fear is always tempered by his love. And the place to find that love is in Jesus. How more loving could God be than to send us Jesus? As we get to know him, we revel in a perfect balance of love and fear.
William D. Eisenhower says in his CT article, “Fearing God”:
“As I walk with the Lord, I discover that God poses an ominous threat to my ego, but not to me. He rescues me from my delusions, so he may reveal the truth that sets me free. He casts me down, only to lift me up again. He sits in judgment of my sin, but forgives me nevertheless. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but love from the Lord is its completion.”
Tags: Fear God, Love God