Hyperinflation, food shortages, botched elections. Increased immorality, ramped addictions, a culture out of control. Loneliness, isolation … rejection … judgement from others.
Do any of the above circumstances start a tremor in your heart?
These fear-inducing commodities are sold to us hourly by the media, sometimes well-meaning friends, and even a few of our supposed spiritual leaders. Fear is one of our enemies’ top sellers and we, not fully comprehending our royalty, lift the apple from the hand of evil, ingesting the poison.
Fear rules our society and it’s taken the throne far too easily.
We’ve Been Warned
God knew we would be tempted to take fear and run with it, giving it an unnatural power over our lives. Because He knew this and because He knows us inside out, He’s addressed the topic more than one hundred and twelve times in His Word.
Scattered throughout Scripture are various forms of the phrase fear not and the message is so prevalent, I fear (pun intended) we gloss over the passages without considering the weight of this command. In Joshua 1:9, God says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid.” These words are imperative—God does not make a suggestion to fear not here. This is an order from our Maker.
Fear-laden Christians befuddle me, and the reason may well be because I have my own fear issues. Here’s the deal: I love to make people happy. Seeing smiles on faces is my heart’s desire but as a parent, a grandparent, a corporate manager, and Bible teacher, I’m called to be honest and that sometimes requires saying things people don’t want to hear. At the core of my people-pleasing tendencies is a fear of rejection. Thankfully, the ever-patient Lord has taught me to deal with my fear through His Word. I’ve learned I have an audience of one to please. Not a horde—just one. One. If I deal with people in a way that pleases the One, no amount of rejection can affect me (or my lack of sleep which is my personal fear marker).
Faith is an Action Word
In our Laodicean-esque culture the word faith has come to identify our spiritual philosophy rather than our spiritual being or essence. We tend to view faith as religion we’ve signed off on. The Hebrew word for faith is emunah and this is an action word defined as help, support, or defense. Faith is the substance of who God is. Our faith is not about what we believe (God exists) but the person/deity we believe in. He is all in all. He sustains, He protects, He lives, He saves.
And because He is all the above, we have no reason to fear. We are to fear not!
I think of those team-building exercises at wilderness camps. In one activity, some brave soul volunteers to fall backwards off a platform into the waiting arms of wide-eyed participants below, building trust in the team. I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen too many Youtube videos of experiments like this going wrong. But with Jesus, we don’t fall into human arms. We fall into the source of all power. When I’m on the proverbial platform and called to jump, my heart pounds at the thought. But I take that anxious step and fall (faith) knowing Christ will not only catch me but is with me as I descend. This is faith.
Faith is not a belief. Faith is an action.
Not all Fear is Bad
Because it is a natural human response, fear does serve a purpose. Fear can trigger adrenaline—a God made and needed hormone secreted by the adrenal glands in conditions of stress. Adrenaline increases blood circulation, breathing, and metabolism in preparing muscles for action. This hormone puts your body into fight and/or flight mode to physically protect you.
As well, healthy fear can keep us from doing stupid things like grabbing the hot pot bare-handed; jumping off cliffs, or running head-first into tornados.
The Healthiest Fear
There is one fear we are commanded to embrace, and this is the fear of the Lord. In the book of Deuteronomy, the Lord says: You shall fear only the Lord your God; and you shall worship Him … Deuteronomy 6:24
Fear only the Lord your God.
Fearing God alone means respecting Him and His seat of honor–His throne of sovereignty. Think of it as a robust respect for that hot pot, the height of that cliff, and that powerful storm. All of these can cause you harm, yet all are good in their respective ways. He is to be feared. But He is good.
The Scriptures below explain the fear of the Lord better than I ever could:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge … Proverbs 1:7
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom … Psalm 111:10
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life … Proverbs 14:27
The fear of the Lord leads to life … Proverbs 19:23
When the circumstances around us spin out of control, we are to “fear not” and trust the sovereignty of God. He doesn’t just win in the end; He wins every single day and He does so in and through you.
Fear God. Not man. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? – Psalm 56:4
If I perish, I perish,
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