Daily Devotional

Fear of the Lord
Proverbs 9:10 - “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (NASB)

The fear of the Lord is a difficult concept for many Christians to grasp.  As God’s children, we marvel at the love our heavenly Father has for us, and we have a hard time understanding what role fear plays in that relationship.

For example, 1 John 4:18 declares that “perfect love casts out fear.”  But Philippians 2:12 exhorts us to, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”

How do we reconcile these two truths?

The answer lies in the fact that there are two kinds of fear when it comes to God—the fear of punishment and the fear of reverential awe.

As Andrew Murray explained: “Two meanings of 'fear' enter into the concept of the fear of God. There is the dread or terror of the Lord and there is the fear of reverential awe. There is the fear that consists in being afraid; it elicits anguish and terror. There is the fear of reverence; it elicits confidence and love.”

As Christians, we should have an appropriate awareness of both aspects of the fear of the Lord.

Imagine visiting the Grand Canyon Skywalk in Eagle Point, Arizona—a glass bridge suspended 70 feet out over the chasm, with a heart-stopping 4000-foot drop beneath you. As you step out onto that glass floor, you’re engulfed by both terror and awe.  Terror, as you envision yourself plummeting to the bottom.  Awe, as you behold the canyon’s beauty, with its vibrant colors, towering cliffs, and breathtaking panoramic views. It’s both terrifying and wonderful, fearful and glorious all at once.

In our faith journey, we need to remember that if God chose to judge us for our sins, we would all be consumed by the fury of his wrath.  But he didn’t!  Instead, he poured out his judgment on Christ, who provided atonement for our sin.  As a result, we no longer need to fear God’s wrath.  But God is still a God of absolute power, holiness, and justice. In His presence, like standing before the Grand Canyon, we can't help but tremble with reverence and awe.

Don't fall into the trap of thinking that the love of God and the fear of God are incompatible. Under the New Covenant, God's love does not obliterate our fear but rather sanctifies it, forging a profound balance between the reverence that inspires our trembling and the grace that assures us of His everlasting love.
New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
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