We read in Scripturethat “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” In this case, the word “fear” can be taken to mean holy awe – a recognition of God’s majesty, power and beauty. This sense of awe relativizes all of our human plans, revealing in the light of God’s glory how much we depend upon the continual grace of God. The fear of the Lord compels us to do things that we would normally avoid, to do work that exposes us to hardship, embarrassment and suffering. Strangely enough, this holy fear also gives us unearthly courage. Knowing that God alone is to be feared, we are freed from our terror of the many other authorities that demand our ultimate loyalty.
In the fear of the Lord, we find true love – which casts out all human fear. The world’s fear has to do with punishment, but the fear of the God is grounded in unconditional love and reconciliation. When we allow ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit, we discover that Christ’s leadership is qualitatively different from that of the rulers of this world. As Paul writes in his epistle to the Romans, “all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” Rather than becoming God’s slaves, we become his children! “For you did not receive a Spirit of fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba!’ Father, it is that very Spirit bearing witness that we are children of God…”