Maybe I should have used Proverbs 1:7 which declares “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” But, frankly, though I’ve been told 10,000 times that this kind of fear means “reverence,” fear will never mean that for me. Why? Because fear means living in a world where you walk on eggshells hoping not to accidentally step on an emotional landmine. You learn a type of “knowledge” that teaches you to act in such a way as to avoid punishment.

Sadly, it took a long time to realize that my experiences became the lens through which I see God. And I found myself relating to God primarily to avoid punishment. The road to a restored view of fear is a long one. While it is long, it is hopeful. Because the kind of fear that gives birth to wisdom is one lavished with love.

On the one hand, there is a type of fear that says, “I will take out the trash because I’m afraid of what you will say or do to me if I don’t.” This fear has to do with punishment. On the other hand, there is a type of fear that says, “I will take out the trash because I love you and I don’t want anything to get in the way of our love for one another - in fact, I want our love to grow!” The latter is what God gave to us in Jesus Christ. And as we experience more of his love, we begin to give it freely, finding that the love of God is both the beginning and the end of true wisdom.

Heavenly Father, please heal us from fear of you carried from past experiences. Train our hearts to understand that you have given a love that drives out every fear.

Consider this: If you find yourself fearing God to avoid punishment from him, in addition to your regular spiritual practices, consider seeking a trained professional to help heal your past and live into the reality of God’s love for you.

Tags: The Life Devo 1 John 4