Editor’s note: Today's article is the ninth in a series about "fine line" areas of our lives. Areas where we struggle to discern truth from sin. Areas we prefer not to deal with so that we can continue living on the edge, where the "fine line" is. Click here to read about Happiness vs. Joy, Judging vs. Accountability, Loneliness vs. Alone-ness, Gossip vs. Venting, Lust vs. Love, Doubt vs. Questioning, Worry vs. Concern, and Righteous vs. Unrighteous Anger.

Oh my, I hope he didn't see me. "Why hello, Mr. Officer, Sir."

"How are you young lady?"

"Oh, I am fine."

"What are you doing?" he asks.

"Oh nothing, just waiting for my Mommy."

Whew! He didn't catch me. I think I just swallowed my gum. I know what I did was wrong. If the officer caught me, what would have happened? But worse, what if my Mommy and Daddy found out? But also, what would God think? He would really get mad.  

When I was about 6 years old, I went to visit my aunt at her apartment. I got increasingly bored and asked my mom if I could go outside to play. As I walked around I noticed a line of mailboxes. I decided to open them up and pull out what was inside. I pulled out letter after letter, opening them up to try and read them. But each letter was written in cursive and I hadn't learned how to read that yet. While holding these letters, I saw a police office driving up. I quickly threw everything behind me into the bushes. The police officer knew I was up to something... but what? He eventually drove off. As time went by, even stretching into years, I would fear the wrath of my parents but even worse, the wrath of God.

God is All-Knowing

God is all knowing, all being, the first, and the last. Because of this, we should fear out of a respect of who he is and what he is to us. A fear of knowing that, with flair of his nostril, he can make the wind move, the sea dry up, cancer disappear and a child be born. Because this type of fear is expected and healthy, it will keep you loving God in a way that promotes growth in your relationship with him.

God is Judge

Because God is God, there is a natural, instinctive fear of his judgment against us. Even as a small child, I knew what I did was wrong because the letters were not mine. I knew that the police officer would be mad, my parents would be upset, and that God would not approve. But being fearful of an authority is normal if, in fact, you have done something wrong. I should be afraid of what punishment I might receive, what judgment man or God will make. This is a normal fear out of my actions, of my sin.

Fear becomes unhealthy (the fine line) when we walk around feeling like we have to duck a blow from God. We have a tendency to put attributes of our earthly authority figures on God. Because our parents or teachers would punish us for no reason, we sometimes believe God will do the same. Rest assured God does not sit in heaven waiting to pounce on you. He loves you. When we are bad, when we make mistakes, he offers repentance. But with all sin, there are consequences. When you have a healthy fear of God you will want to do what is right. You will understand and accept those consequences.