Fear or Love God
Reverence filled love of God gives wings to our worship to help us soar on to new spiritual heights providing us with God’s perspective on expressing His love towards others.

Fear or Love God

        The command from God to love the LORD is preceded by the command to fear the Lord your God. This was not limited to the then present generation but for their children and future generations so that they are blessed with long life by God. God is love and all His works are display of His great love for us. God is a loving Father who does not want to terrorize His children but to teach them reverence and obedience.

         Why are we always filled with dread? – Origin of the feeling of dread is from disobedience of God and its consequences. God declared the resulting outcome of their sin to both. To Eve that her desire shall be her husband and he shall rule over her and also sorrow and her conception and pain of child bearing. To Adam it was about mortality, hard work and about the outcome of that toil to also carry obstacle and pain of ‘thistles’ (Genesis 3:16-19). The fear of the unknown future started and mankind can never be sure of what to expect as the result of their labor. Cain killed his brother Abel and then complained about the punishment that he was to suffer, ‘My punishment is greater than I can bear’ (Genesis 4:13).

        In the Garden and later Cain, did God actually curse them? – Hebrew word ‘avon’ is translated as ‘inequity, guilt, punishment for inequity thus carrying both ends of the coin in itself. Punishment is thus contained in the sin itself and God only revealed to them what the result would be. That is why the question to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ (Genesis 3:13. Cain became afraid of being killed by anyone for his sin after committing it and was not afraid of anything before that. Fear is a result of sin and when this fear gets ignored after continuous sinning it results in hardening of hearts. Hebrew word ‘yare’ means fear, revere or stand in awe’. Fear thus has two aspects, one is the fear of consequences of sin or the unknown while the other is awe or reverence for God.

         Fear of God is mentioned repeatedly in the Bible and it is misunderstood as fear to flee from God or to avoid His presence. Moses’ command about fear of the LORD is repeated thrice and it is then followed by the direction ‘to love the LORD with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength’ (Deuteronomy 6:2; 13; 24 & 4). This fear is a disposition, reverential awe and respect toward God combined with obedience to His will. Fear of God is always combined with wisdom; ‘fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge’ (Proverbs 1:7) and also with true life, ‘fear of the LORD is the fountain of life’ (Proverbs 14:27 & 19:23). The more we know God the more will be reverence for Him in our hearts. God’s prophesy regarding the Messiah lists fear as one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit and this fear is about becoming aware of who we are in the eyes of God, who is love, and also about our responsibilities towards God’s kingdom (Isaiah 11:2-3).

        Fear of God is about spiritual awareness and being awake and all believers are ‘sons of the light and sons of the day and not of the night or darkness’ and are required to be sober and vigilant ((Thessalonians 5:5-6). Fear itself as an emotion is given to mankind by God to make them react to defend themselves and to revere Him. Scripture commands us that if you do the seven things listed first; receive my words; treasure my commands; incline your ear to wisdom; apply your heart to understanding; cry out and lift up your voice  for discernment and understanding; seek her as silver; search her as for hidden treasures. Then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God (Proverbs 2:1-5).

          Getting deep knowledge of God instills fear, awe and reverence for God since His might, His love, His mercy and grace and all the gifts from Him are available in nature. In that we gain knowledge and then we cry out like Apostle Paul did, ‘Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?’ (Romans 11:33-34). Reverences of God turns to fear so that we may not go astray and thus lose out on God’s mercy and its resultant blessings. God does not create fear in our hearts but we do, like a child’s fear of his loving father.

          God appeared on Mount Sinai to the Israelites with thundering and lightening, thick cloud and a very loud sound of the trumpet. The people trembled and ‘said to Moses, ‘you speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die’ (Exodus 20:18-19). When we compare this with Moses’ request to God to ‘show me Your glory’ and that ‘if Your presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here’ (Exodus 33:15 & 18). When we get to know God self condemnation on realization of God’s presence in the Temple sets in and we see His Divine glory in comparison to our personal sins. Instead of self condemnation when we keep listening to His voice we get an opportunity to be readily available to volunteer for God’s work. He has innumerable options to get His work done but there is none other for me (Isaiah 6:5 & 8). King David gazed at the wondrous creation to see God’s glory reflected therein and felt a deep longing to be close to and know God (Psalm 19:1-6). His cry of ‘My soul thirsts for God, for the living God’ (Psalm 42:2) brought in the realization of self worth to exclaim ‘What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him’? (Psalm 8:4).

         ‘Chesed’ or love and mercy of God and ‘gevurah’ or judgment of God equal the two parallel reactions of love and fear in us. Love is the desire to expand or broaden self through knowledge and closeness to God while fear is the mode of contraction into the realization of His overwhelming greatness. Thus Love and fear are two wings on which our worship of God soars up to heavens since worship without feeling and understanding falls flat and motivation through love and awe makes it live.

        How do love and fear, being opposites, work together?  A bird cannot fly with one wing though one can hop around on one leg for a while. To achieve spiritual greatness both must work together in a person. Jews believe that the first five books of the Bible contain 613 commandments from God and these are called mitzvah and it is about performance of a good or religious deed within a religious duty. Every mitzvah is a bond between God and man. The attitude of man towards the commands of God and our deeds must relate to both these points – man must find himself in the command and must also find God in the mitzvah. Love is the way of finding oneself in it and fear or awe is the mode of finding God in it. When I demonstrate love for the command I express the sense of my personal fulfillment in doing that and I find an element in that command that speaks to me and urges me to obey thus adding to my persona. My inner drive for self-enhancement leads me on to get enriched through this obedience.

          Awe or fear on the other hand is awareness of something greater than self in the mitzvah and it does not distract to disobey but results in appreciation of its content. Love gives appreciation and fear gives higher awareness of that and then love urges further, thus setting up a continuous chain reaction. Love and fear are mirror reflections of chesed or grace of God and gevurah or His judgment. We love God for His grace and mercy. Judgment on the other hand demands accountability and truth to make us realize that what we have is not ours and we become aware of God’s Omnipresence and our insignificance before Him. As God reveals Himself to us through His character trait of love and His strength or power, we react with love and fear and our actions in these two emotions become the two wings which help us soar into His Divine presence. As we see kindness and power to be the fundamental actions of God so too love and fear on our part are reactions to God’s deeds. These two are visible in God’s first actions of God in creation so too are love and fear two basic essentials of worship. Thus the command in Deuteronomy 6 in first five verses about fear and love for God combines both chesed and gevurah.

          Worship and rejoicing in love and fear – ‘Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling’ is King David’s idea of worship of God. A believer must fear God from love and not love God from fear. That is why the two commands are together, ‘you shall love God, your Lord’ and you shall fear God, your Lord’. Lord Jesus warned ‘Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul, rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell’ (Matthew 10:28). This is about fear of the devil also. Hell or the word ‘gehenna’ is used 12 times in New Testament and 11 of that by Lord Jesus. He also spoke of the ‘Day of judgment’ and ‘to shake off the dust from your feet when leaving a town that does not receive the Gospel and that town will suffer more than even Sodom and Gomorrah’ (Matthew 10:14-15). ‘Every man must die and after that is the judgment’ (Hebrews 9:27). Hell is identified as the place where ‘there worm does not die and the fire is not quenched’ or there is eternal burning or punishment for committed sins (Mark 9:48).

        We talk about nuclear holocaust which is only a possibility but not about hell which is a certainty. How do we approach the ‘Day of judgment with confidence?’ The way is defined by Apostle John that ‘Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the Day of Judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear; because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love’ (1 John 4:17-18).   

       First are the three things of verse 17 – Perfect love is revealed in verse 12 above that, ‘No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us’. It is about outpouring of God’s love in our ‘thoughts, words and deeds’ towards others. This perfection is not about no defect but about completion as the Greek word used is ‘teleioo’ which means ‘finished, completed or accomplished. Thus  verse 17 would be rendered as, ‘In this, that is in your love for each other, God’s love is put into action and so reaches its appointed goal’. It does not remain at the imperfect stage of mere talk but reaches the stage of action. This gives us confidence for through this we reflect our being part of God’s family by being transformed into the image and likeness of Lord Jesus. 

         The next verse 18 reflects the opposite of this that ‘he who fears is not perfected in love’. Love is not about being flawless but about coming to fruition on ‘the Vine’ through our deeds and this is faith in action. The first part of the verse says, ‘there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, for fear has to do with punishment’. When our love is like the love of God expressed in His grace and mercy, there is then no fear and there is confidence through faith in the forgiveness of sins. ‘When we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin’ (1 John 1:7). It is then that we worship in awe and rejoice in His love.

         When we walk and dwell in the light of God’s love and in belief that we are cleansed of the darkness of our sins, we are filled with the fear of someone missing out on this due to lack of effort on our part. This love filled fear then guides us towards others to reach out with the message of God’s love expressed and revealed in and through His Son. Then all our thoughts, words and deeds reflect this!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Kartar

    Amen Amen …. Very true sir….How beautifully written and described….. May u live healthy and longer. We seek your valuable opinions, thoughts to understand and to learn what this holy scripture wants to tell us. Sincerely thanks colonel Sahb…warm regards….kartar

    1. Col Harjit Singh

      May the Lord fill you with the fullness of His love, power and abundant life.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.