The book of Acts describes the early Church as “walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:31). That’s an interesting juxtaposition. In the fear of the Lord and in His comfort.
Actually, this is a theme that can be seen throughout Scripture. There is necessarily a tension in our walk with God. On the one hand, He is the almighty Creator of all. On the other hand, He has called us His friends. He is the omnipotent God of the universe, yet, at the same time, He dwells within us. He who is perfectly holy – without sin – calls us to be holy, yet He grants us grace and mercy over and over and over again.
Keep in mind that these are not contradictions. They help us to see the full path where we are to walk, the completeness of what our relationship with Him should look like.
Throughout our lifetimes we have a tendency to lean toward one extreme or the other. We forget God’s love and comfort, and we lean toward legalism. Or, we neglect the law side of God and embrace a cheap form of grace. Over the long haul, many people tend to go back and forth, like a pendulum swinging.
The point, though, is not to find a balance. Simply walking some middle ground is part of what Jesus was talking about when He said that He wished we would either be hot or cold, not lukewarm. He doesn’t want some sort of compromise between the two extremes. Instead, He wants us to wholeheartedly embrace both extremes at once.
We absolutely must recognize what depraved sinners we are. And I don’t mean back some time ago when we came into the kingdom of God. I’m talking about right here, now, today. Apart from His grace, even our best days and our best efforts are far below the Lord’s standard of perfection. On our own, we’re hopelessly lost.
At the same time, we absolutely must recognize the fullness of His grace and mercy toward us. Jesus’ death and resurrection cleanses us. He has made us His children, His friends, His bride. His love encompasses us every moment of every day. We belong to Him because of His great compassion.
I encourage you today, just like the Church in the book of Acts, to walk in both the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
Good, important reminder, Tom. We hear a lot about “balance” and tend to think we should find it in all areas of life. But no, not here! You are absolutely right on!
Excellent truth. I needed to hear that today. What an exciting tension to live embracing!
Excellent balanced word; especially as we remember that most heresy begins with a truth, taken to the extreme. Thanks!