1 Peter 1:17
And if you call on the Father, who without respect of persons judges according to every man's work…
Fear is an emotion which is much misunderstood and misrepresented. It is sometimes denounced as something radically and necessarily bad. But this is not the case; all depends upon what is feared, for this determines whether the emotion is justifiable and capable of tending to some good result.
I. THE CHARACTER OF CHRISTIAN FEAR.
1. It is quite different from the fear of the unbelieving and irreligious. Such persons fear to lose their worldly possessions, and to lose life itself. They may have a certain fear of God, for even the devils believe and tremble.
2. It is inculcated in Scripture. ]Not only does the Old Testament bid us "serve the Lord with fear," "fear God, and keep his commandments;" the New Testament records Christ's admonition, "Fear him who is able to destroy," and the apostolic injunction to "perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord," and, "Be not high-minded, but fear."
3. The grounds for the Christian's fear are evident. He fears less he should yield to temptation, lest he should be defeated by his spiritual adversary. He fears God, not with the abject terror of the slave, but with the reverence and awe due to the All-holy, the infinitely Just.
4. Fear is not the all-absorbing emotion in the Christian's breast. Its presence is not incompatible with love and hope and a measure of joy. Fear mingles as an element in Christian experience.
II. THE MOTIVES TO CHRISTIAN FEAR.
1. Our state as one of sojourning and pilgrimage. We are not yet "at home;" we are in the wilderness. The season of desert-wandering is appointed by Divine wisdom; yet it is a probation not to be avoided. How can we do other than fear, when we think of our weakness, and of he might of our foe? Indeed, had we not the assurance of our Captain's spiritual presence and aid, fear might well become the predominant emotion in our mental life.
2. The anticipation of judgment will not suffer fear to be quelled. Is our "work" fit for the Master's inspection? However our fellow-men may regard us, we know that we must appear before him who is "no respecter of persons," and who wilt estimate us and our service with justice and impartiality. That we may not fear then it is well for us to fear not.
3. The recognition of God's Fatherhood gives the true character to the Christian's fear. This is a paradox. Men would say, "If God be a Father, and not merely a Judge, then he need not be feared." This is not the apostle's view. On the contrary, the holy fear which becomes us is made gracious and purifying by our knowledge that a Father's eye is upon us, that a Father's heart ceases not to cherish us. - J.R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: