The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
"A Heart Like This"
Part 3 - Fearing God's Love
Solomon declared the fear of God to be the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; 9;10). The New Testament also frequently commands born again believers to fear God, including the Apostle Peter's command to "pass the time of your sojourning here in fear" (I Peter 1:17).
Occasionally, some attempt to mitigate the command by suggesting the Hebrew and Greek root words for fear actually mean awe and reverence. Certainly, the Biblical case can be made for such sensibilities to frame the believer's heart and mind. However, the Hebrew "yira" and the Greek "phobos," the Bible's primary root words for fear, actually mean what we usually think of the word, including even the sense of terror and dread. How do we factor this into the character and way of the God who "is love," and whose heart is full of tender mercies and compassion? (I John 4:8; Psalm 119:156; 145:8). How do fear and love unite in our heart to form a proper understanding and response to our Lord?
A Scriptural and genuine knowledge of our Lord's love inevitably leads us to fear Him. His unselfish devotion to His creation means that God will always act in accordance with that which is best for it. This is particularly true of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, declared by the Apostle Paul to be God's "dear children" (Ephesians 5:1). Our Heavenly Father will do that which is best for us as He works to conform us to the spiritual and moral image of the Lord Jesus (Romans 8:28-29). "Best for us" in our present existence involves not only the blessing of the pleasant, but also the challenge of the painful.
"We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22).
Our Heavenly Father loves us enough to grace us with glories that bring happiness to our hearts. However, because we presently require trials and troubles for His loving purposes for us to be fulfilled, He also administers and allows challenges that bring unhappiness to our hearts. "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him" (Proverbs 13:24). Such challenge will not feel like love to even the most godly among us. It will feel like anything but love. But it will be love no less than the most beneficent of God's happy blessings. This is something of which to be afraid. A true knowledge of our Father's love will lead us to fear Him because He will always do that which is best for us, rather than that which makes us happiest. In essence, we fear His love.
No sweeter woman ever walked the earth than my mother. Moreover, I was the apple of her eye. I knew she loved me with all her heart. She made countless sacrifices for me after my father died that confirmed her devotion to me day by day. She was kind to me, generous beyond all measure, and I loved being her son. However, I not only rejoiced in her lovingkindness. I was also afraid of her. I was afraid of her love. I knew it meant that if I needed her to step outside and find the thin branch of a bush that would provide necessary reproof and correction, she would do so. And she did (quite skillfully, I might add). When I think back on those painful times, I know how hard it was for her to administer discipline. It was not of her emotional constitution to do so things. But it was her heart. Like her Lord, "a heart like this," a heart of genuine love, moved her hand when necessary to hurt me. I feared such unselfish devotion as a little boy. But deep inside, I knew my mother loved me by both the pleasant and the painful.
A Heart like this beats within the Father to whom we are more dear than even eternity will fully reveal. He is to be loved in holy response. He is also to be feared. His love is to be feared. We know His love thereby. We also love Him in the light of such unselfish devotion to our best interests. Indeed, like my mother, the God who "hath no pleasure in the death of the wicked" surely takes no pleasure in the chastening of His children (Ezekiel 33:11). He nevertheless allows and administers hardship because we so desperately require it in our present existence. Surely, a Heart like this is to be loved. And, a Heart like this is to be feared.
"Whom the Lord loveth, He scourgeth, and chasteneth every son whom He receiveth."
(I Peter 2:17)
Weekly Memory Verse
"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
(I John 5:4)