"If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared" (Psalm 130:3-4).
Why fear God? He is holy--if He kept a record of sins, no one would be able to stand. We would all be condemned. Surely that is reason to fear, right? But according to this passage, that's not why we fear Him. We fear Him because He forgives.
How is this so? What does it mean to fear God because we find forgiveness with Him, and not because of His judgment? Perhaps part of it is that we stand in awe of such love and mercy. Fear based on His wrath and judgment would be a terrifying fear, not a comforting fear. But fear based on His forgiveness is a worshipful fear--amazed, speechless, humbled, grateful, adoring. It's a fear that hates the thought of dishonoring or displeasing One who loves me so recklessly, forgives me so completely. It's a fear that falls on its face at the foot of the cross, seeing that Christ knew wrath so that I could fear God because of forgiveness and not wrath. How could I reject Him? Perish the thought! That's the fear God desires from us.