The fear of God can be a confusing thing. God repeatedly tells us not to be afraid, yet He also says we are to fear Him. Without getting into Hebrew and Greek, which I only know enough to quickly get myself into deep waters, we sometimes make it simple for ourselves by stating fear of God is the same as respect for God. But that’s not truly accurate. Fear (of God) must involve respect, but the two are not interchangeable.
Fear of God is recognizing who He is and who we are in relation to Him. He is a good God who loves and forgives us. He is compassionate, merciful, and loving. He is also just, righteous, jealous, and angry. None of those things are in conflict of one another. None of them can be separated from one another. God has all of those characteristics. We can’t take what we like most about God and make Him into someone we want Him to be. He is sovereign. We can’t compare our own experiences and assumptions of His qualities and project them as truth of who He is.
We are created by Him. He is our authority. We may avoid Him, refuse Him, fear Him, respect Him, or love Him, but our reaction to God doesn’t change Him.
So how can we fear Him in a way that honors Him?
Being scared of God and fearing Him are different. One has something to hide. The other has nothing to hide.
Being scared of God makes us run away. Fearing Him acknowledges who He is and places us in a humble relationship with Him. It exposes us to be able to know Him and receive from Him all He wants to pour into us.
When we walk in His ways, we fear Him. When we fear Him, we walk in His ways.
Fear serves the same purpose as bumper pads in a bowling alley, keeping us out of the gutter.
Keep the commands of the Lord your God by walking in His ways and fearing Him. (Deuteronomy 8:6)