Fear God and Fear Not!
And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God. But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. Luke 12:4-7
Only the most delusional man is without any fear. But there is good fear and there is bad fear. We want to avoid being fearful in a way that dishonors God and on the other hand we want to have that fear that honors him. The question is, what kind of fear is sinful and what kind of fear is just and righteous?
This text helps us. Notice that our Lord says twice that we are to fear God, and that we are to fear him as the one who is able to cast into hell, who is able to destroy both body and soul there (cf. Mt. 10:28). Also notice that this is not directed towards the enemies of Christ, but towards his friends (ver. 4), towards those who are of more value than many sparrows (ver. 7). So even the people of God are meant to fear God in this way.
Why? Well, it's obvious isn't it? What sends people to hell? Sin does. To fear God in this way is a necessary part of our motivation to flee sin and pursue righteousness. It isn't wrong to tremble before the God who is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29); it is rather a mark of true godliness and spiritual maturity.
But there are wrong and sinful ways to fear, and it is against these that our Lord commands: "Fear not therefore" (ver. 7). What kind of fear is this? In some ways, it is also directed toward God, but this time it is the response of one who does not have a right and Biblical view of God. This fear is spawned from a belief that our heavenly Father does not care for his children. It is a reminder that "even the very hairs of your head are numbered" and that "ye are of more value than many sparrows" (ver. 7). Those who belong to the Son of God can never be forgotten before the Father (ver. 6).
We want to relate to God in such a way that we run from sin and to God. From sin, because God is holy and judges those who live in sinful rebellion against God. To God, because God sovereignly and faithfully and eternally loves those whom he has chosen from before the foundation of the world. This is the balance of faith and godliness. May it be our prayer that our Father in heaven will more and more create this beautiful balance in each of us today and in the days to come.