Love and fear. Is it possible for both emotions to inhabit healthy relationships?
I loved my parents but also feared them. I loved them because they brought me into the world and cared for my needs. They fed me when I was hungry, changed my diapers when they were dirty and massaged my stomach when I had colic and cried all night. When I contracted German measles, they worried more about me getting well than them getting sick.
But as an older child and teen, I feared them. They weren’t satisfied when I strayed into actions or attitudes contrary to what they believed appropriate. They made rules, and I lived by them or was disciplined. Parents also have the law on their side which gives an even greater incentive to obey.
Should you not fear me? declares the LORD. Should you not tremble in my presence? (Jeremiah 5:22) God dwelled among his Old Testament people. They professed to love him but weren’t demonstrating it through actions. God calls them to account, pronounces their actions foolish and then gives them a few reminders why they should fear him. He made the ocean, set its boundaries and brought the rain making bountiful harvests possible.
Interaction with God involves both emotions. We love God because he first loved us. When connected to him through faith in Christ, our love grows stronger. But healthy love incorporates an element of fear. Although God won’t remove his love, we should tremble in his presence and respect his position. We are here by his decree. Every breath we take is an expression of his love. Learn to enjoy God’s presence while respecting his power at the same time.
Prayer: Merciful Lord, may our fear of You drive us to love You more.
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