I felt fear when I thought of going home. Because of my carelessness, our lovely console TV had fallen out of the trunk of my car and was badly marred. No, I wasn’t afraid that my wife would yell at me or hit me. What I feared was the look of disappointment I would see in her face. Yet home was the place I wanted to be.

My fear was the kind of fear we should feel in relation to God. This is the mature fear advocated in Psalm 34:9 and many other Scripture passages. It is the fear of disappointing the Lord because we love Him so much, and because we so much appreciate His love for us.

The fear of punishment is an immature fear. This is the fear that is cast out by the “perfect love” mentioned in 1 John 4:18. This kind of fear isn’t entirely bad, though. It’s often a factor in causing a person to believe in Christ, and it may also keep a Christian from serious sin. But as we grow in our faith, we will obey God because we love Him so much that we don’t want to disappoint Him. Pleasing Him will be our supreme desire.

Lord, deliver us from an immature fear of punishment by developing in us a deep awareness of Your love and a profound desire to please You.