Fear of the Lord is easily the most misunderstood out of all the Holy Spirit’s gifts. Simply put, fear of the Lord is the gift of reverence for Him as our creator. It allows us to remember exactly who we are and who He is. This concept is often forgotten in today’s society as many people believe that they, not God, know best.
The gift of fear is the first step toward conversion for many who are far from God. It is also the beginning of love. Many of us were initially called to a deeper conversion because of the fear that we would someday by judged by Almighty God for our actions. Due to our fallen nature as human beings, we are prone to comfort-seeking, laziness and ultimately – sin. Very few of us set out to sin because we want to be bad. Instead, we fall into sin because it feels good at the time. In his book My Daily Bread, Fr. Anthony Paone comments that when we bring sin into our life, we make ourselves an object of God’s justice. In other words, someday we will be accountable to God for what we have done in this life. Through the gift of fear, the Holy Spirit can prompt us to seek forgiveness through the sacrament of confession and to reform our lives.
The Bible states that “He who finds wisdom is great indeed, but not greater than he who fears the LORD. Fear of the LORD surpasses all else. Its possessor is beyond compare.” (Sir 25:10-11) and “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”(Ps 111:10). St. Teresa of Avila writes, “Love will make us quicken our steps while fear will make us look where we are setting our feet so that we shall not fall.”
In closing, let’s look at a prayer composed by Fr. Paone in his aforementioned book:
My God, I do not want to presume so much on your love or to forget your justice. You will someday deal with each man according to his works. I desire to make good use of all the gifts which your love daily sends me. May I never forget that I must one day account for my misuse of these gifts. This thought will help me to fight sin and to please you more in my daily life. Amen