os-ter' austeros, "harsh," "rough"): Twice used by Christ in the parable of the Pounds (Lu 19:21-22), and of special significance as illustrating the false conception of God cherished by the sinful and disobedient. The fear resident in a guilty conscience sees only sternness and severity in God's perfect righteousness. The word may be made an eminent study in the psychology of an evil heart. Wrongdoing eclipses the soul's vision of God's love and pictures His righteousness as harsh, unfeeling, partial, unjust, forbidding. The awfulness of sin may thus be seen in its power so to pervert the soul as to make goodness seem evil, justice unjust, and even love unlovely. Compare "hard" skleros, "dried up," "harsh") in the parable of the Talents (Mt 25:24).
Dwight M. Pratt