Throughout the Bible we come across the expression fear of the Lord. It no doubt refers to a complex aspect of life and is far from simple. For a few thoughts on it, see “Who Do You Fear?”. Clearly, it is meant to play a significant role in life. If not, why does it appear so often? Alongside this “fear of the Lord,” another prominent idea emerges throughout Scripture: love for God. How do fear and love of God relate?
A bar magnet
Maybe the fear of the Lord and love of the Lord work kind of like this.
Envision a bar magnet.
As you know, a magnet has two distinct magnetic poles: the north pole and the south pole. As any kid can tell you, opposite poles attract and like poles repel.
So far, so good. Magnets attract and repel.
As you certainly know, this is why traditional compasses work. The magnetized needle interacts with the magnetic field of the earth, attracted by one pole and repulsed by the other, making it move.
The Love and Fear Magnet
Now let’s take this magnet and put love of God on the north end and fear of the Lord on the southern end.
To complete the image, we need to add one more piece to our metaphor: a compass. Look at this video and pay attention to how the magnet interacts with the compass.
There is a push-pull interaction of the magnet with the different ends of the compass (anyone who is into physics could go more deeply into the way the different magnetic fields interact, but we can ignore that for our sake). Either end of the magnet works to push the compass in the direction you want it to go.
You life should be like that compass needle. The love of God should keep us pointing in the right way. It connects us to the vital life of God and draws us ever towards him and the blessings he has. The fear of the Lord serves the same point: keeping us in connection with God. But it does so in almost the opposite way. The fear of the Lord is a force that repulses us from wickedness, sin, disobedience and disregard for God the creator and Redeemer.
Both love and fear of God need to move the needle of your life.