Our Fear of God Is Inspired by His Love
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Hilary was born in Gaul at the beginning of the 4th century to wealthy pagan parents, who gave him an excellent education with a high level of Greek. Later, upon reading the Old and New Testament writings, he abandoned Neo-Platonism and was baptized. The Christians of Poitiers so respected Hilary that they elected him bishop unanimously in 350. Over the next twenty years, he vigorously confronted the Arian heresy that was threatening to take over the Gallic church, defending the Nicene faith in his writings and his actions.
Our Fear of God Is Inspired by His Love
Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways. Whenever scripture speaks of the fear of the Lord we notice that it is never mentioned on its own, as if fear could by itself bring our faith to perfection. Instead, much else is said either before or afterwards to help us understand the principle of fearing the Lord and how this fear can be made perfect. This we know from what Solomon says in the book of Proverbs: If you would cry out for insight and raise your voice for understanding if you seek it like silver and search for it as for treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord.
We see how many steps we must climb to come to fear the Lord. First, we must call wisdom to our side. We must hand over to our intellect the whole task of making choices. We must seek wisdom out and track her down. Then we shall understand what it is to fear the Lord. Certainly this is not how the ordinary run of men think about fear.
Fear is the trembling of human weakness frightened of suffering what we do not want to happen to us. This fear is caused in us and stirred by consciousness of our guilt, or by the power of one stronger than ourselves or the aggression of one too powerful for us; or it may be caused by sickness or the attack of a wild animal or the infliction of any evil. This fear then is not taught but it comes from our human weakness. We do not learn what we ought to fear. Rather, the things we fear themselves instill their own dread in our minds.
But of the true fear of God we read: Come, O sons, listen to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord. The fear of God, then, is something to be learned because it is taught. Its origins are found by way of teaching and not in fright. We must find it by obeying commands, by doing the good deeds of a blameless life and by coming to know the truth, and not in moments of human terror.
All our fear of God is inspired by love; perfect love of God makes fear perfect. We show our love of God especially when we follow his advice, conform to his laws and trust in his promises. We must follow the words of Scripture: And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him and to keep his commandments with all your heart and with all your soul, that it may be well with you.
Many indeed are the ways of the Lord, for he calls himself the way. When he spoke of himself, he called himself the way and he told us why he had done so in these words: No one comes to the Father except by me.
We must then examine many ways, and start out on many of them, so that we may find the one way that is good, the way of eternal life, following the instructions of many teachers. There are ways provided by the law, or the prophets, or the gospels, or the apostles. We find ways too in the various works of the commandments. Those who walk in such ways in the fear of God are blessed.
Hilary of Poitiers
1 John 4:7-19
Gracious and holy Father,
give us intellect to understand you,
reason to discern you,
diligence to seek you,
wisdom to find you,
a spirit to know you,
a heart to meditate upon you,
ears to hear you,
eyes to see you,
a tongue to proclaim you,
a way of life pleasing to you,
patience to wait for you,
and perseverance to look for you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Pray with us today's prayer request:
The East African Christian College in Rwanda has now been accredited to run a course in Education. Praise God for growing numbers of students and developing the infrastructures accordingly. There are more applications for accreditation due in June and so please pray for these to be successful. To the Lord be the Glory.
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