January 2, 2019

Love and Fear

January 2, 2019


Proverbs 1:1-7
This weekend’s reading: Revelation 1:9-19

I took piano lessons throughout my childhood. Beginning as a first grader who could barely plunk out “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” to my graduating recital when I played Chopin’s “Military Polonaise,” I studied with the same teacher — Mrs. J. Victor Barr.

Mrs. Barr was a gentle, kind, sweet-spirited woman, but I would dread the sound of her footsteps on the sidewalk outside our house if I hadn’t practiced. Somehow my relationship with Mrs. Barr included both love and fear.

In a similar way, Proverbs 1:7 says, “Wisdom begins with the fear of the LORD.” This idea of “fear” as it relates to God sounds unfamiliar and unwelcome to our Wesleyan, grace-immersed ears. Surely we are to love God, not fear him? After all it says in 1 John that “perfect love casts out all fear” (1 John 4:18).

One resolution to this apparent contradiction is the idea that when we love someone, we never want to disappoint them, or hurt them, or cause them pain. Just as I didn’t want to hurt Mrs. Barr by ignoring her instructions to practice, we don’t want to disappoint or grieve God by ignoring or disobeying his commands. And following his commands and living as he has instructed in the Bible will truly result in wise living.


  • Is there someone in your life for whom you feel a healthy mixture of love and fear?
  • What does that relationship teach you about your relationship with God?
  • Do you “fear” God? If so, how does that affect the way you live?

  • Is there a teacher at school you like more than all the others?
  • Have you ever disappointed or disobeyed him or her?
  • How did that make you feel? How do you feel when you please him or her?


Holy God, we know you are all-powerful and all-knowing. We know that your commands are just and true and good. Help us to honor and revere you by the way we live our lives, following your precepts. Amen.