Born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are called to both fear God and love Him (Mark 12:30; I Peter 2:17). This seems contradictory, but we often encounter such a dual sensibility in our everyday experience.
The child knows that a parent who possesses only a hand of gentleness lacks a heart of true love (Proverbs 13:24). The student who once despised the exacting teacher ultimately values a mentor originally viewed as a monster. Friends who only smile and coddle are discovered to be no friend at all, and the Bible teaches that wounds as well as warmth are the hallmarks of true friendship (Proverbs 27:6).
Both Old Testament and New call us to the understanding that fear of God comfortably and necessarily resides with love for God. Indeed, the same fire that warms our hands is understood to be the fire that would burn if we related wrongly to it. The believer who draws near to the comforting hearth of Christ well knows that his Heavenly Father loves him enough to administer keen pain when necessary along the path of righteousness. "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth" (Hebrews 12:6).
I strongly believe that such firmness on God's part is an act of self sacrificial love. His disposition of lovingkindness toward us is such that He desires always to relate to us in warmth and tender affection. However, His perfect faithfulness sometimes requires "fiery indignation" administered toward anything in our lives that would harm us (Hebrews 10:27).
We should rightly fear this expression of Divine faithfulness administered by the God who declares, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten" (Revelations 3:19). Regardless of how well we understand in principle that God's chastening is for our best, it will not feel like it when the scourge of love is upon us. It will feel like a scourge. Such awareness that our Father loves us enough to sacrifice His primary disposition of gentleness toward us in order to best serve our needs will go far directing our hearts and feet toward genuine godliness. Even more, the fear of God will actual increase our love for Him as both the caress and the correction are seen as the perfect expressions of perfect faithfulness.
"Let them now that fear the LORD say, that His mercy endureth for ever."