If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and perfect love casts out fear, when is fearing God a good thing and when might it not be an issue at all?
The beginning is not the end.
At three years old, I had to sit quietly on the front church pew through my dad’s long, boring sermons. I can’t imagine a three-year-old doing that today. I was given no choice. I didn’t need many come-to-Jesus meetings in the basement to learn the fear of my father’s belt on my backside.
My fear was the beginning of wisdom.
When I deserved a spanking, I prayed for mercy and forgiveness. Calmly Daddy said, “You’re getting a spanking.” The dread of what was to come hours later was as painful as the belt. I learned a lot about unanswered prayer, because Daddy was faithful in keeping his promises.
“This is hurting me more than it hurts you,” he said.
I didn’t believe him then. But now I remember the tears in his eyes, and I know it was true.
Love comes from spending time together.
Daddy and I spent countless hours together, and it wasn’t just to have fun. I was with him when we planted a garden, shingled the garage roof, and worked on the car. We went fishing and played games, and sometimes I went with him on ministry calls. When he became my best friend, I no longer had to fear.
Doing anything to displease my father would have broken my heart. Behaving came from love and respect, not fear.
God is our best friend forever.
Our heavenly Father is available if we want to spend all our waking hours with him. But it has to be our choice. The more we walk with him, the better we know him and the more we want to be like him. Seeking always to do his will, we have no reason to fear.
The fullness of our love for God leaves us no reason to cringe in fear of him. That’s because the fear is based on our anticipation of his punishment, which is impossible when our love in him is complete. — 1 John 4:18, The Discussion Bible