The Grocery Store
Imagine that you drive to your favorite local grocery store and luckily find the best parking spot, the one right next to the handicapped spots. As you are getting out of your car, a stranger walks up and tells you that he needs your parking place and instructs you to move your car. You would probably be a little indignant. This is your favorite spot, after all. You found it, and you see no good reason to give it up.
Now, let’s make one small change to the illustration. The stranger is wearing a police uniform. Although this police officer does not know you, has no prior relationship with you, and certainly does not love you, you would likely begrudgingly comply with his request because you recognize his authority. But your obedience would be rooted in fear—fear that disobedience would result in your detainment or arrest.
Let’s change the illustration one last time. The man who approached you is not just a police officer. He is the chief of police, and he is your father, your daddy who loves you. This is the daddy who was in the hospital room when you were born and saw your first breath and heard your first cry. This is the father who counseled you, raised you in the Christian faith, and lovingly but firmly corrected you when needed. What would you do now? You would quickly move your car, not just because you recognize the legal authority of the officer who can ticket you for disobedience, but because you also recognize him as your loving father who only has your best intentions at heart.
Notice how fear and love became intertwined when the identity of the police officer was also the earthly father who loves us. The context of family changed everything. This is the way it is with the fear of the Lord. The command to fear God can only be properly understood within the context of family—God’s forever family.
But the same Heavenly Father who commands us to fear him also promises to bless our obedience.
“Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!” Psalm 34:9 ESV
“He will bless those who fear the Lord— small and great alike.” Psalm 115:13 NIV