Fear, Love, and Obedience

“(12) And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, (13) and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good? (14) Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the Lord your God, also the earth with all that is in it. (15) The Lord delighted only in your fathers, to love them; and He chose their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as it is this day. (16) Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer. (17) For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe.” (Deuteronomy 10:12-17)

We are to fear God, to love God, and to obey the commandments God has given us. Namely love one another as He (Jesus) has loved us. It is the ‘fearing’ part I always had trouble with understanding. Why should I fear an all-loving, all-merciful God? Now the ‘love’ part I thought I always understood but have only just realized I hadn’t a true clue what love was until these last few years of my life. Being obedient is self explanatory. You just do what you are told. It had always sounded simple enough. However, funny thing is all these have changed for me. I can no longer do one without doing the other two, at least not properly.

Fear. There are many ways to fear, many types of fear, and several definitions for fearing. I know that a lot of times in the Bible when it speaks of men being in Fear of God what it really is saying they are in awe of God. To see someone that pure, that holy, that intensely good that it is so painfully obvious what you are seeing is not of this world….is frightening in the intensity of being in awe or shock. To see someone so pure I would feel fear simply due to my own impurities, fear of offending this beautiful being before me.

Another type of fear is strictly fear. To be afraid of what God will do or what God will think of you and your life. Whether or not you believe in God right now, one day you will come before His judgment seat and you will be terrified. God, this man, this Triune entity has control over your eternal soul. Will you spend it in heaven, or will you spend forever (which is a very long time) in the torments of hell? Imagine how frightened you are staring down the barrel of a gun, or how scared you would be if someone were trying to kill you by any means. Now God can do more than kill you, He can wipe you from ever existing. The wrath of God is something to fear if you incur it. This sort of fear isn’t usually the fear believers have toward God. AT least not once they are saved.

The fear I have of God now leads into the aspect of loving God. I fear displeasing God, of hurting my Lord, of dishonoring the ginormous gift of my Savior, and of disrespecting the very Man who has blessed my life in so many ways. It is the same type of fear you feel in disappointing your parents, or in hurting your loved one. Just intensify that by a lot. Because I love God I have fears concerning Him. I want to please Him. I want to do as He commands of me. I want Him to look on me with favor and pride. And because I have all these worries and these fears I can’t help but love Him. I could never feel these things or this way unless I loved him. If I didn’t love Him I wouldn’t care. And if I didn’t care that would leave me only with the fear of His eternal judgment on my soul.

To love God is more than just saying I love Him. It is more than saying a prayer once or twice a day. It is more than going to church every Sunday because I am supposed to. I am in love with God. It is about getting excited to spend that time at church with Him; like a date night. It is about feeling that giddy excitement in speaking about Him as I do in speaking about my soul mate. To love God as I believe this passage suggests with love God…it comes without strings. There are no requirements He has to fulfill or meet or do for me to love Him. I simply do. To love God is to hold it as a truth in your heart. Nothing can take away my love for God. Nothing can negatively change my love for God. And no matter what happens to me—torture, maiming, death, or name your persecution—I will never denounce or pretend to feel otherwise. To love God, and to love your neighbor, is to love them more than yourself. It is to choose to put that love before what society deems acceptable, appropriate, or deserving. To love God with all your soul is to jump feet first in that bottomless pool of adoration, feet first, and to swim with unadulterated freedom of youness. If that makes sense. There are no ifs. There is no such things as a but. And ‘chances’ simply don’t exist in this type of love.

Now if you love God like this, and you fear God in any of the aforementioned (or not mentioned) ways…how could you be anything but obedient? When my soul mate asks me not to do something because it causes him pain, do I go out and do that thing? No. I don’t. If my husband says he doesn’t like me dressing promiscuously because he wants to be the only one who sees me dressed like that; do I go out and do it? No, because I respect him. I love him. I understand the specialness of it. So when I read through the things God wants of me, commands of me, I obey them. They are good commandments. They keep me safe. They keep me happy. He doesn’t ask anything outlandish of me. Why wouldn’t I obey Him?

Granted I am by no means perfect in my obedience. I am human. I am a sinner. I try not to use that as an excuse to get away with some things, but it is the truth. But I will never stop trying. I will never say I have done enough. I could never do enough.

So, yes, I will “circumcise the foreskin of my heart”. I will cut away that which covers my heart from Him, which keeps my heart from Him. I will remove everything I can that hinders me from exposing my whole heart to the Lord. I won’t do it perfectly. I will fall down probably more than I stand up. And I know at times I will have to crawl because my ankles no longer work. Actually, I won’t. I know in those moments God will scoop me up and carry me. Because He loves me more than I can ever comprehend about dreaming to love Him.

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