Today is the third day that my family has been stuck at home due to snow and ice in north Georgia, and tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Since I am good at procrastinating, I have not a thing prepared for my husband, so it looks like a homemade card it will be until I am able to brave the roads! With Valentine’s Day around the corner I have been thinking about God’s love for us, our love for God, and it’s place in our lives.
God is love. The greatest commandments are to love the Lord with all of our soul, mind, heart and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we do not have love, we are nothing.
However, in Christianity today there is a trend to focus only on God’s love. The verses about love and liberty are the ones that we like to quote. I did a quick search and discovered that the Bible contains approximately 393 verses about love (which is about 1.26% of scripture). While this is a huge number, about 99% of scripture isn’t directly about love. We can’t just leave these verses out while we learn about the Lord and who He is.
One of the main problems with focusing only on God’s love for us, is that it leads to a “me-centered gospel”. While it is true that God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, so that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16), this is not the end purpose of the gospel. The purpose in all things is that God be glorified! It is not so much about us, but about God’s purposes being fulfilled through Jesus Christ, and us glorifying the Lord in all we do. When we only think of love, if things in our world go wrong we question God, and His goodness. We believe that He either turns a blind eye at what has happened (which He hasn’t….if He did then He wouldn’t be God), or that He might not truly love us like we thought He did.
Likewise, if we only do things for the Lord out of love for Him, (and not fear), when things aren’t quite right we might not “feel the love” so much and stop seeking Christ as we should. Only thinking about love results in an emotion-based relationship that might not be grounded in true faith.
If we only think about God’s love for us, our egos can begin to puff up. We must be pretty wonderful for God to love us, right? But we have to remember that while God is loving, merciful, and kind, He is also righteous, holy and just. He chastises His children, and through scripture we see that we should have a healthy fear of the Lord.
This fear isn’t a “terrified” type of fear, but rather an awe of God’s majesty and sovereignty. He created all things, His purposes for all things will be carried out, and if we even caught a glimpse of the Lord we would perish because His majesty is so great. While love can be emotional, fear is more grounded in rational thought. It leads to the knowledge that God is ultimately in control of all things, and asks us to give up our own desires for God’s ways even when it hurts.
Fear of the Lord leads to wisdom. How many of you ladies desire wisdom in our roles as Christians, wives, and mothers? Fear of the Lord leads to this.
Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment. -Proverbs 9:10 NLT
Fear of the Lord leads to life.
The fear of the LORD leads to life, and he who has it will abide in satisfaction; He will not be visited with evil. – Proverbs 19:23 NKJV
We also need to remember that God chastises the ones He loves. Let’s take a look at Hebrews 12:5-11:
And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Ouch. I definitely do not like the thought of being chastened, but the Bible is clear that if we are not chastened, then we are not true children of God. My love for God, along with healthy fear and a knowledge of chastisement drives me to please Him, and to live my life for Him.
While we should love the Lord with our entire being, let’s remember that fear of the Lord is actually a good thing that leads to life and wisdom.