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The Fear That Love Brings

May 15, 2018

With you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. Psalm 130:4

We usually think of fear and love as alternatives. Where there is fear, there is no love; where there is love, there is no fear. But love and the right kind of fear are inseparable companions.

Fear is like cholesterol. There is a bad kind, and if it goes up, your health is getting worse. But there’s also a good kind, and if it goes up, your health is getting better. So we want to cultivate the right kind of fear. We want less of the bad kind and more of the good kind.

If the only kind of fear was the bad kind, then Psalm 130:4 would say, “With you there is forgiveness, so that you may not be feared.” That is, since you are a God who forgives, we don’t need to fear you anymore. We could forget about fear and focus on love.

But that is not what the psalm says! It says precisely the opposite: “With you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.” So there is a kind of fear to which you are introduced when you are forgiven. Forgiveness is a massive gift of love that brings you into the right kind of fear. This is what the Bible means by the fear of the Lord.

John Bunyan says, “Godly fear…flows from a sense of the love and kindness of God to the soul.” This is not a fear that we grow out of; it is a fear we grow into. We are to fear God as we love him, and we are to love God as we fear him.

What do you know of this fear that comes from the forgiveness and love of God?

The Author
Colin Smith

Colin Smith is the senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. He has authored a number of books, including Heaven, How I Got Here and Heaven, So Near - So Far. Colin is the president and teacher for Unlocking the Bible. Follow him on Twitter.

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