Let all the earth fear the Lord; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
When I became a Christian, I was uncomfortable with the command to fear a God of love. In the impudence of my immaturity, I thought I had the 'right' and 'ability' to understand God. The seeming incongruity of fear and love toward the same God stumped me.
A Christian friend said 'Fear of the Lord' meant 'reverential awe.' I was comfortable with her definition. Looking back, I think she was half-right. Certainly, we should regard our Lord with reverential awe. But according to Jesus, we should also regard Him with fear:
'I will warn you Whom to fear: fear the One Who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! (Luke 12:5). Why? In the words of another friend: 'The Lord don't play.' That's the other half.
God is serious about crime and punishment, but He's also serious also about devotion and rewards. Consider these Bible definitions:
'The fear of the Lord is to hate evil' (Proverbs 8:13); 'The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge' (Proverbs 1:7) and 'The beginning of wisdom' (Psalm 111:10). 'In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence... a place of refuge... a fountain of life' (Proverbs 14:26-27)--and 'His mercy' (Luke 1:50).
For Heaven-bound believers, fearing the Lord brings everything good--including His correction when needed. If we ever feared a good parent's discipline, much more should we fear the Lord's. In both cases, they are needed.*
For earth-bound unbelievers, we should fear for them--enough to get serious about the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.
When God tells us to 'Honor those who fear the Lord,' we must show respect to every brother and sister in Christ--to help each one in any way that we can. But this step to Heaven doesn't stop there.
We must also show respect to people who fear God from other religions--even if they don't (yet) know Jesus. Because devoted worshippers of God may surely meet our King at the end of their lives, if not before: 'I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My Voice; and they will become one flock with one Shepherd' (John 10:16).
To Be Continued...
'Fear of the Lord' brief article: http://www.gotquestions.org/fear-God.html
* 'The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.More to be desired are they than gold,Yea, than much fine gold;Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.Moreover by them Your servant is warned,And in keeping them there is great reward (Psalm 19:9-11).
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Twelve Steps To Heaven series.