Two Fears

Filial [son-like] fear is such a fear as dutiful children bear to their fathers. But the servile [slavish] fear is such as bond-slaves bear to their masters. A son simply fears to offend or displease his father, so that his obedience is accomplished with love. A bond-slave fear fears nothing but the punishment of his offense, so that his obedience is joined with hatred. Such a man fears not to sin, but to burn in hell for sin.


Nothing is acceptable to God but that which is performed through a true filial fear of God, a free, willing, ready, cheerful submission in good conscience. Such a submission as will stir us up to do the best good we can to those to whom we submit ourselves is therefore more acceptable to God by reason of its cause, and more profitable to man by reason of its effects and fruits.

A true fear of God makes us respect more what God requires and commands than what our corrupt heart desires and suggests. It subdues our unruly passions, and brings them within the compass of duty. It makes us deny ourselves and our own desires, and, though through the corruption of our nature and inborn bride we are loath to submit, yet God’s fear will bring down that proud mind and make us humble and gentle.

William Gouge, Building a Godly Home, Vol. 1 A Holy Vision for Family Life

Add your voice to the conversation