“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD...”
- Deuteronomy 10.12, 13
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
With respect to how we relate to God, fear and love are inseparable affections.
We fear God because of Who He is – holy, almighty, and just. We know what He is capable of toward those who practice sin, and we know ourselves to fall into that category (1 Jn. 1.8). We fear God because we do not find His discipline pleasant (Heb. 12.11), and we know ourselves to be candidates for His discipline pretty much at any time.
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. But the Lord also requires that we love Him. We love Him because, knowing what we deserve from Him, we find instead that He is gracious toward us, and faithful, and that He offers us, through His own Son, abundant hope, and holds out exceeding great and precious promises (Jer. 29.11; 2 Pt. 1.4).
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.
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.
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!