Fear can be a nasty word. Fear can be a scary word. Fear can paralyze, cripple, arrest a person where they stand. Fear is not in God’s plan for His children.
Fear sometimes keeps me up at night. I am afraid of not being a good husband and father. I am afraid of not being a successful student pastor. I am afraid of money…really!! The crazy thing is, being afraid can prevent me from even trying. I am so afraid of failure and messing things up that I sometimes do not even start. Fear renders me completely powerless, useless and worthless in Kingdom affairs.
I remember an instance when this happened in the first student ministry in Charlotte, North Carolina, where I served. We were taking a group of students and parents to Honduras for a mission trip, and we needed to raise $24,000, which is a large amount of money to me. I was so afraid of that number that I did not even start the process of raising the money. Parents kept asking me what my plan was and I kept putting it off. The fear of failure had completely paralyzed me! I literally could not sleep at night. The fear was overwhelming. The parents finally set me straight (meaning, they moved forward in spite of me,) and the money was raised with no real issue… but not because of their fearless leader.
FEAR CAN SHUT US DOWN
One of the things I have learned in my life is that I do not like fear. I do not like being afraid. My youngest child (8 years) still thinks her daddy is not afraid of anything. But, I am. This is a real issue with me! I know fear comes from a place of pride. Fear says, “everything is up to me,” “everyone is counting on me,” “I’m the one in control, so I’m the one who must make it all work out”… I could go on. Essentially, fear comes from a complete focus on myself and my circumstances and assumes I am the one in control. Fear comes from a lack of focus on and understanding of God and His complete sovereignty.
Let me share with you two passages of scripture the Holy Spirit brings to my mind when I choose to wallow in fear.
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”
This verse is very powerful in what it is saying to the believer.
First, Paul is telling his young protégé, Timothy, what is not from God. If I am living in fear, I can KNOW that I am not walking with God. Timidity is also translated fear. This verse very clearly states that fear is not from God. He is not the One Who is doling out this immobilizing attitude. Again, fear, at its root, is birthed from selfishness…pride. Fear is wicked, it is selfish, and it is offensive to the sovereignty of God.
Second, Paul goes on to tell Timothy what is from God. Power—I have been given a spirit of power from God… WOW! As a believer, I have already been given everything I need to live a life worthy of the calling (Ephesians 4:1). I am told in Ephesians 1:3 that “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him Who called us to His own glory and excellence.” Love—God has given me a spirit of love. As this spirit of love becomes my motivation for living and serving, fear is driven out. Love for God and for others becomes the why…not me (Matthew 22:36-40). The spirit of love means the focus is on God and others and not me. The spirit of love replaces the spirit of fear (1 John 4:18). Discipline—Finally, God has given us the spirit of discipline. Some translations will read self-discipline or sound mind. The spirit of discipline concerns living confidently and wisely. Proverbs 2:1-12 says, “if you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; if you cry out for discernment…then you will understand righteousness and justice, equity and every good path…discretion will preserve you; understanding will keep you, to deliver you from the way of evil.” God has given His Word and the Holy Spirit as my teacher. I can live confidently and wisely as I seek God (and consequently, wisdom, understanding and discernment) through His Word and as I spend time talking with Him (James 1:5).
Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
As I seek and spend time with God through prayer, He will guard my heart and mind with His peace. Literally, He will put a garrison (barricade, shield) of peace around my heart and mind! He will surround my heart and mind with an unwavering confidence in Himself. He places within me a confidence, in Him, that results in a peace that I can neither understand nor explain. This is a confidence in Him that has absolutely nothing to do with my current circumstances or inadequacies!
A beautiful picture of this confidence leading to peace can be found in Psalm 3. David wrote this Psalm as he fled from Absalom, his own son. David’s enemies have increased to a number of ten thousand who desire to kill him. They are all around him. But, in verse 5 of Psalm 3 David says, “I lay down and slept: I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.” That is peace. That is confidence in God.
Fear is the enemy of God’s peace. Fear is sin, because I am choosing to trust myself rather than Sovereign God. Fear is a restless existence!
God does not want me to be paralyzed by fear. He has provided a much better way–Power, Love, Discipline, and His incomparable Peace!
To God be the Glory!