A life in the fear of the Lord

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1 Pe 1:17-21

Bretheren, if you address as Father him who judges without favouritism according to each individual’s deeds, live out the time of your exile here in reverent awe. For you know that the price of your ransom from the futile way of life handed down from your ancestors was paid, not in anything perishable like silver or gold, but in precious blood as of a blameless and spotless lamb, Christ. He was marked out before the world was made, and was revealed at the final point of time for your sake. Through him you now have faith in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory for this very purpose – that your faith and hope should be in God.

“The root of wisdom is fear of the Lord” (Ps 111:10). This holy fear helps us remain vigilant while walking our time of exile –which we are undoubtedly in –; as long as we haven’t yet entered the eternal Kingdom of God we are exposed to all types of dangers…

The fear of God, one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, is related to the blunt rejection –we can even say hate– towards sin. It is the Holy Spirit who infuses in us such rejection, making us aware that only sin can separate us from God. This is why we avoid it carefully, and vigilantly walk our way in this life; otherwise, we fall into sin through lightness and end up tangled with it.

On one part, we recognize God as the fair Judge; but, on the other, thanks to the gift of fear, we also see Him as the loving Father, who wants our salvation. In the first place, recognizing God as One who loves us without measure, we avoid sin for love towards Him, in awareness this would separate us from Him. In this way, it is not the fear of judgment that makes us avoid sin (though, without a doubt, this would be better than sinning frivolously) but through our filial love that does not want to hurt the Father.

This last attitude –that of avoiding sin for the love of God– will be our great incentive on the road to sanctity and will make us live in constant vigilance. And this is not only about avoiding grave sins, but to ensure the Holy Spirit will teach us to be evermore delicate in our loving relationship with the Father.

We will also learn who is our major enemy in the road to sanctity. He is inside of us: it is our evil-inclined will and our disordered passions, in other words, our desires that exceed the limits of what is good and reasonable.

The apostle gives us another important piece of advice to lead a life in the fear of the Lord. We must recall, says Saint Peter, “that the price of your ransom from the futile way of life handed down from your ancestors was paid, not in anything perishable like silver or gold, but in precious blood as of a blameless and spotless lamb, Christ.”

Meditation on this deep truth can restrain in us any lightness or frivolity in front of sin because when considering the Passion of our Lord, we will recall the magnitude of His love, and equally, the seriousness of sin. These two aspects mark the soul and move it to avoid any sin with high fervor and correspond to the love that God has shown us.

In present days we are in danger of relativizing sin more and more. It’s true: God pays attention to what is good in human beings and does not look exclusively at our sins. Instead, He is at any hour willing to forgive at the slightest sign in us of wanting to convert. But this does not deny the graveness of sin nor it denies its devastating consequences.

In this sense, the gift of fear of God shows us the right way we must follow as not to fall –in scruples, having a false image of God, as if God were at all times controlling us strictly and ruthlessly; and avoid –on the other hand– that we become too relaxed in relation to sin, relativizing it.

We can ask the Holy Spirit for this gift to become effective in us. This will keep us in a marvelous spiritual equilibrium: vigilance in front of inner and outer temptations; and, at the same time, experience deep and confident security in the Heart of a Father full of love for us.

In this way, we can also confront our weaknesses and sins sincerely and openly, recognizing and presenting them to the Father, who is always waiting for us. After the astonishment and repentance we feel for our sins comes the certainty of the pardon from Who has bought us at the price of His blood.

On the other hand, in this same attitude we will be able to encounter other persons, without relativizing their sins; neither, in the opposite extreme, consider that their life is a lost cause. May the Holy Spirit give us the wisdom to relate with those that are tangled in sin, helping them find their way to pardon, which is the only one that will set them free!