There is not a person in this life that has never been afraid. Everyone at some point in their lives has been petrified with terror. It happens to us as children and as adults. As a child we fear things like being punished or getting lost. As adults we fear things like losing our jobs or not being able to provide for our families.
I have often referenced that courage can not exist without fear. A person that acts without a sense of fear ends up being foolish and making mistakes. So, there is some value to fear. Fear can be source of protection for our lives, but it can also hinder us from living it.
As an English teacher, I read stories with my class on a regular basis. One of the things we study are characters and how they face adversity in the story. Brave characters must face their fears and become courageous to succeed in the end. Even my students have started to recognize the balance of fear and courage in stories they read.
The same goes for our lives. There are moments when fear is good. There are moments when fear are opportunities to be courageous. There are times when fear should not be listened to at all. So, I thought I’d write a bit about the nature of fear.
WHEN FEAR IS GOOD
When I was kid my Mom told me not to get too close to the oven. I guess curiosity got the better of me and I wanted to look in the oven window. The more curious I got, the closer I put my face to the oven window. Eventually my nose touched the hot oven window and I screamed in pain.
After I burned myself I learned not to get too close to the oven. This kind of makes me wish I listened to my Mom, but I think it is in out natures to test the waters ourselves and just like my Mom, sometimes God lets us burn our noses on the hot stove.
Proverbs 1:7 The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning and the principal and choice part of knowledge [its starting point and its essence]; but fools despise skillful and godly Wisdom, instruction, and discipline.
I think when we are growing up we like to ignore our parents warnings. I think we do the same with God, but why do we ignore him? It is the same reason we start to ignore our parents. We stop fearing him, but we should have a very righteous and healthy fear of God.
God is not a monster, but a loving father. We should always respect and fear his discipline in our lives. His discipline is fueled by unconditional love and will only lead to good things.
Romans 8:28 We are assured and know that God being a partner in their labor all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.
When we stop and truly fear the Lord we are stepping into wisdom. When we forget to fear him we are becoming fools and will end up in worse situations because of it. Burning our noses on hot ovens will seem like child’s play compared to the consequences of forgetting to fear God.
GATEWAY TO COURAGE
Ephesians 3:12 In Whom, because of our faith in Him, we dare to have the boldness (courage and confidence) of free access (an unreserved approach to God with freedom and without fear).
I can point to many scriptures that tell us to “fear not”. It is a command that assures us that God is on our side, but I do not find courage begins without fear. Before we are told to “fear not” we first must be afraid. So, in order to discover the courage we first must identity our fears and hand them over to God.
In this scripture from Ephesians, it says “we dare to have the boldness”. This implies an action that should be taken directly against our fears. We can face all of our fears with our faith in God. It is our fuel to fight against the fears that prevent us from our desires and goals in our lives.
So, I’ll simply say that if are looking to be brave you’ll have to find your fears first. You won’t be able to “fear not” without a fear to start with. So, don’t avoid your fears, but identify them so you can approach them with a fervent faith in Christ. It is your gateway to courage.
NEVER ERR ON THE SIDE OF FEAR
We all are free willed and make decisions everyday of our lives. A friend of mine likes to say, “Never err on the side of fear”. I think that is simple and wise. Other than the fear of God, fear is always talked about negatively in the Bible. That would tell me that it doesn’t do us much good in our lives.
So, fear is something in our hearts that should be fought against. If you’re scared of something ask yourself “why?”. Are you afraid of being hurt? Are you afraid of the unknown? Are you afraid of commitment? Are you afraid to make a decision?
I feel sometimes people make safe choices because there is an abundant amount of fear in their lives. It prevents them from making the choices that require faith. Do you think that Paul was never afraid? He was thrown in jail on multiple occasions, but he never stopped his ministry. Do you think that David wasn’t at least slightly afraid of Goliath? I’m sure he was, but his faith overcame when he slew Goliath. Do you think that Jesus didn’t fear the cross? Based on his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, I think he did, but he still died for all of our sins anyway.
It can only mean one thing. Never err on the side of fear and all always “fear not”.