The Fear of the Lord

Read: Romans 8:14-17

Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always. (Prov. 28:14)

What exactly does it mean to fear the Lord? Preachers usually explain it as feeling awe for God, adding that it doesn’t mean we should be afraid of him. Really? Aren’t you just a little bit afraid of God? I know I am (see Heb. 12:18-29).

Bible scholar Alec Motyer defined the fear of the Lord as “a filial dread of offending God” (The Message of Philippians, p. 100). Our fear is filial, it’s the attitude of a son or daughter. It rests on the confidence that we are God’s beloved children, adopted in Christ and sealed by the Spirit, who teaches us to call God Abba, Father. The fear of the Lord is not the fear of a slave cringing before a terrible master or a child shrinking from a raging adult. But it’s also “dread of offending.” The last thing we should ever do is treat God casually or presume upon his grace. “With you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared,” said the psalmist (Ps. 130:4).

The book of Acts describes a healthy season in the life of the early church: “And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied” (Acts 9:31). The Christian life is a walk, and like any walk, you have to balance between two steps: left, right, left, right. Or in Acts’ terms: fear, love, fear, love—the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. —David Bast

As you pray, ask for the right balance of fear and love in your daily walk.

About the Author

david bast
Rev. David Bast

Rev. Dave Bast retired as the President and Broadcast Minister of Words of Hope in January 2017, after 23 years with the ministry. Prior to his ministry and work at Words of Hope, Dave served as a pastor for 18 years in congregations in the Reformed Church in America. He is the author of several devotional books. A graduate of Hope College and Western Theological Seminary, he has also studied at both the Fuller and Calvin seminaries. Dave and his wife, Betty Jo, have four children and four grandchildren. Dave enjoys reading, growing tomatoes, and avidly follows the Detroit Tigers.