Fear God, Love God

They are two sides of the same coin.

Everyone should call upon and beseech the Lord of heaven and earth
  to stir up fear and love of Him within his heart; for until the fear
  of God enters his heart, one is but lukewarm.
When fear is weak, repentance is weak.
When repentance is weak, religion is weak.
For he who does not fear God will not love Him.

  - Colmán mac Beógnai, Aipgitir Chrábaid, Irish, 7th century[1]

“And now, Israel, what does the L
ORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?”

   - Deuteronomy 10.12, 13

In the believer’s relationship with God, fear and love are inseparable affections. They are two sides of the same coin, and constitute the currency of our walk with and work for the Lord.

The more of each we possess, the richer we will be in the Lord, and the better able we will be to make our way around in the divine economy.

We fear God because of Who He is – holy, almighty, and just. We know what He is capable of doing to those who practice sin, and we know ourselves to fall into that category (1 Jn. 1.8). We fear God because we know that He disciplines those He loves, to keep them in the good and righteous way (Heb. 12.3-11). We should not expect His discipline to be pleasant, and we know ourselves to be candidates for His discipline pretty much at any time; therefore, we fear Him, because we know too well what we deserve.

God requires that we fear Him. He commands it. By fearing the Lord, we nurture hatred for sin (Ps. 97.10), thus mirroring in our hearts the Lord’s own attitude toward all transgression. If we fear the Lord, we will walk in all His ways, and thus find His ways to be just what we need and desire.

But the Lord also requires that we love Him, which we will do as we discover how pleasant His ways are in the Lord Jesus Christ.

We love God because, knowing what we deserve from Him, we find instead that He is gracious toward us as we walk in His ways, and that He offers us, through His own Son, abundant hope and joy, and holds out exceedingly great and precious promises (Jer. 29.11; 2 Pt. 1.4). Loving Him, we press on to serve Him and to keep all His commandments.

Love for God thus follows from fear of God, and brings fear of God to completion. Whoever does not fear God, will not love Him.

Thus we must keep watch over our hearts at all times, to ensure that fear and love for the Lord are both present. For only when we fear Him will we resist temptation or, having fallen, seek repentance; and only when we love Him will we worship and serve Him, and keep His commandments, out of gratitude for His mercy and grace.

Fear and love for God are best nurtured in moments of quiet reflection and prayer, in which we review the many attributes and works of God, allow His Spirit to search and teach us, and respond from the depths of our being to His mercy, whether in forgiving or disciplining us, according to our need.

Don’t be afraid to fear the Lord. Remember the children’s response upon first seeing the mighty lion, Aslan: “O my, is he safe?” Comes the reply, “No, he’s not safe; but he is good.”

God isn’t safe, either, so we are wise to fear Him. But He is completely good; therefore, as you rightly fear Him, also admire, adore, and love Him, Who provides you with every good thing in Jesus Christ.

Our walk with the Lord will be more real, vibrant, and fruitful to the extent that fear and love for Him are together the guiding motives of our soul.

For Reflection
1. What is it like to fear God? Is it more than simply being in awe of Him? Explain.

2. Why must we both fear and love the Lord? How do these work together to help us have greater faith in Him?

Psalm 2.9, 10, 11, 12 (Agincourt: O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High!)
To Christ the Lord be given all who humbly embrace Him and on Him call.
Be wise, be warned: His judgment comes to break the prideful, sinful ones.
Rejoice with fear in Jesus’ grace, and worship before His exalted face!
Beware His anger and judgment grim: How blest are all who rest in Him!

Show me Your glory, Lord, and Your excellent greatness, so that I might truly fear and love You, and walk…

Fearing God
For insight to fear God, and why we must, download our free ReVision study, “Fearing God” (click here).

Thank you for your prayers and support.
Susie and I give thanks for you each day, but especially this time of the year, our hearts overflow with gratitude for your friendship, support, and collaboration in this work. God supplies our needs as we look to Him day by day, and He may be pleased to do so, at least in part, through you. Please seek Him in prayer concerning this matter. You can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

T. M. Moore
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All psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


[1] Carey, p. 234.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore