The love of God embraces the whole world and powerfully restrains wandering thoughts. Fear is the master of repentance. The love of God determines the fervor of our piety.
- The Rule of Comghall, Irish, 6th century
Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope in His mercy…
- Psalm 33.18
Again we encounter the combination of fear and love with respect to our attitude toward God. These two affections are inseparable; they work together to nurture us in a healthy, growing relationship with the Lord.
The fear of God leads us, hoping in His mercy, to repent of sin. Since we know what He is capable of as sovereign Lord and Judge, we appeal to His goodness (not ours) out of fear of His wrath (Heb. 12.3-11), as we turn away from our sins to walk in the way of His Word.
At the same time, the love of God ignites true piety in us, making us eager to know, serve, and please the Lord because of His mercy toward us.
The promise of the psalmist is that God keeps a close watch on those who thus fear and love Him. Not that His eyes are not upon all His creatures at all times; rather, He attends more personally, and with more constant nurturing care, to those who walk with Him according to His will – in both fear and love.
Thus it behooves us to develop both of these affections toward God, so that we fear Him as Jesus said we should (Matt. 10.28), and we love Him with all our hearts as well (Matt. 22.34-40).
We nurture the fear of God by meditating on the greatness of His might and the holiness of His being, and by being brutally honest about our own sins and what they deserve. We can do this without fear of annihilation, moreover, because we know that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Rom. 8.1). So, while we increase in the fear of God, we have no fear of being condemned by Him because of Jesus.
Indeed, these are the days, the “afterward” days, when all who seek the Lord are called to fear Him and His goodness (Hos 3.5).
And here, in the very depths of our fear of God, is where we discover the love we have for Him. True love for God rises from the realization of His unfathomable mercy and unbounded grace; and it makes us eager to seek Him, that we may encounter His glory and be strengthened in His truth and love. Truth drives us to seek His presence, become immersed in His Word, and walk in His Spirit each moment of our day.
We cannot have a proper relationship with God unless both of these affections are in place in our hearts and are growing day by day. Today, earnestly hope in the steadfast love of the Lord – His constant, loving care of you in all your ways and needs. And take the time to nurture fear of Him by confessing your sins against the backdrop of His supreme holiness.
Then let a fervent desire for increased piety – that insatiable hunger for Kingdom righteousness – lead you to bask in His loving forgiveness and renewing grace throughout the day.
In the fear and love of God we may confidently expect to know His glory, to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ, and to live for His glory in every aspect of our lives.
Questions for Reflection
1. Why do you think some Christians don’t like to think about fearing God?
2. How would you counsel a new believer to grow daily in the fear and love of God?
Psalm 33.8, 9 (Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
Let all below now fear the Lord; let all in awe of Him abide!
The worlds exist by Jesus’ Word; let all on earth in Him confide.
O Lord, help me to grow in fear and love for You, so that I may…
The vision of God
Obviously, we can grow in fear and love for God only insofar as we increase in knowledge of Him. Not just head knowledge, but knowledge of the heart – true fear and love – that come from contemplating the Lord and walking with Him. Two little books can help. Be Thou My Vision provides 28 days of meditations to guide you into a deeper knowledge of and closer walk with the Lord. Order Be Thou My Vision by clicking here. A companion book, To Know Him, gets right to the heart of what it means to know the Lord, and how we may increase in Him. Order your copy by clicking here.
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T. M. Moore, Principal
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Ó Maidín, p. 32.