Thursday, August 07, 2008

Afraid of Fear

I am. I am afraid of fear, mostly because I fear what fear might encourage me to do.

I chose the word "encourage" there very carefully. Often people talk in terms of obligation: "Fear made me do it." Well, no, it didn't. Fear might have encouraged you to do it. But fear does not make us do anything.

Fear can be both positive and negative. There is a good kind of fear as in "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Prov 1:7). God uses fear to motivate us to salvation and to godly living. How else can we explain the frequent references to judgment and hell? In fact, passages like Hebrews 4:1 command us to fear: "Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it."

But there is also a bad kind of fear, as in "The fear of man brings a snare" (Prov 29:25). This kind of fear (usually coupled with a lust for approval) can cause us to do things or not do things because we fear the reaction of those around us.

In personal counseling (meaning not only when I counsel someone else on a personal basis, but also when I counsel my own person), I like to ask, "What are you afraid of?" I believe when we get an honest answer to the question, we are approaching the root sins that drive the sins that we see.

So what's the answer to fear? Consider this:

'Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.' (Isaiah 41:10)

But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! (Isaiah 43:1)

'As for the promise which I made you when you came out of Egypt, My Spirit is abiding in your midst; do not fear!' (Haggai 2:5)

Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU," 6 so that we confidently say, "THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?" (Hebrews 13:5-6).

The answer to fear is God's presence with us, the God who redeemed us, called us by his name, upholds us by his righteous right hand, and keeps his promises of his presence with us. When we confidently believe that God is with us, regardless of what we might see around us, we will live of a life of godly fear.

I am afraid of fear, and I am afraid not to fear. I think it is a great way to live.

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