There are two motivating factors behind obedience to God – love and fear.
Fear is the reverential response of creatures before the Creator; sinners before holy perfection. The book of Proverbs tells us that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Where there is no fear, sin abounds. Fear is to understand who God is and what we are by nature. It is to understand that God is not to be trifled with. We live in a society evidently void of the fear of God and sometimes one feels the same is true of many churches.
Love is the response of justified sinners before their Saviour; children before their Father. Christians must know both fear and love toward God; they are not polar opposites but complementary to one another. Nevertheless, scripture indicates that love is the pinnacle of all other virtues. Unless we are motivated by love, whatever we do in God’s name, it profits us nothing (1 Cor 13). It is fair to say that one can fear God without actually knowing Him in a saving way. Yet it is impossible to love God unless we have been saved by Him. Before Martin Luther was converted he feared God and sought to order his life accordingly, but He did not love God.
You should obey God because you fear Him, but more so because you love Him. A man may refrain from adultery because he fears the consequences, but surely the higher motive is the deep love he has for his wife and family. 1 John 4:17-19, “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.”
God wants us to grow in our love for Him. The Christian who abounds in love for God is a healthy Christian; a mature Christian; a fruitful Christian; an obedient Christian. Love is something we must cultivate.
• Contemplate the wonder of God’s electing love for you
• Listen to the cries of anguish from Gethsemane and Calvary – made for you
• Remember God’s patience in light of your on-going sinfulness
• Give thanks for the multitude of blessings received day after day
• Look ahead to the promise of an eternal inheritance in a new heavens and new earth
The righteous fear the Lord, but more so, the righteous love the Lord. Love is the essence of true worship; loving God is the most satisfying life we can live. Let us love our God.