Fear and Love

by Scott D. Hendricks

For this reason, admiring the greatness of your condescension, I blended my fear with affection, and from these two, fear and affection, I created a single thing, love, made up of modesty and benevolence, in such manner that a fear devoid of affection did not become hatred, nor did an affection not joined to a prudent fear become presumption, but on the contrary that love be shown to be an immanent law of devotedness which harmonizes whatever is related by nature. By benevolence it masters hatred, and by reverence it pushes away presumption. Realizing that it (that is, fear) confirms divine love more than anything else, the blessed David has said, “The fear of the Lord is chaste and remains from age to age.” He well knew that this fear is different from the fear which consists of being afraid of punishments for faults of which we are accused, since for one thing this (fear of punishment) disappears completely in the presence of love, as the great evangelist John shows somewhere in his words, “Love drives out fear.” For another thing, the former (fear of the Lord) naturally characterizes the law of true concern; it is through reverence that the saints keep forever completely uncorrupted the law and mode of life of love toward God and toward each other.

~ St. Maximus the Confessor

George C. Berthold, trans., Maximus Confessor: selected writings (Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1985), 101.