To compare ourselves to God is to be humbled. The heart bows. Love for his beauty grows as we compare ourselves to the supreme, sovereign, holy, just, omnipresent, infinite, faithful, immutable, omnipotent God. The spiritual vertigo we feel when seeing the chasm between ourselves and God is the fear of the Lord. This is the confrontation with his greatness and goodness.
Loving God rightly means loving Him with a reverent love. To love God without the fear of the Lord is simply a made-up love, a love of some other object which we then call God. To truly encounter the God of Creation is to love Him with deep reverence.
In fact, if you do a word search in your Bible, and look up the words fear, awe, reverence, trembled, marvelled, bow, dread, terror, honour, and wonder, the results are many hundreds of verses. Far more, in fact, than verses which use the words love or treasure and worship. Why? Because the Bible knows how easily we misunderstand the word love. Scripture lays heavy emphasis on the kind of love we give God, because this is where most go wrong. We might understand that love means desire and delight or treasuring and valuing, but we fail to understand that to desire and delight a being like God is a unique kind of desire. It is a special kind of love. It is holy love, the love of the fear of the Lord.
By being in union with Christ, we are enabled to love God as God does. One of the wonders of the Incarnation is that by adding to himself a true human nature, Jesus loved God not only with the divine love of the eternal Son for the Father, but also with the human love of fearing God. Isaiah 11 predicts that Messiah will have the fear of the Lord.
Isaiah 11:1 There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. 2 The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. 3 His delight is in the fear of the LORD, (Isa. 11:1-3)
To be in positional union with Christ, and live that out, is to love God ultimately, and love God reverently. That’s because Jesus did so. He loved God ultimately, and according to his human nature, he loved God reverently.
So what is this fearing kind of love? Again, the Bible uses many different words to capture and describe this kind of fearing love. The best way to describe it is to say that it is the kind of love that responds to both the greatness and the goodness of God.