How much does fear drive your decisions?
When God called Jeremiah as a prophet, Jeremiah resisted saying that he did not know how to speak and that he was too young. The Lord responded, “Do not be afraid…for I am with you.” (Jer. 1:8)
Throughout scripture God tells people not to be afraid. In Genesis, he tells Isaac not to be afraid of King Abimelech and the Philistines. (Gen. 26:24) Moses tells Joshua and the people to be e strong and courageous and not to be afraid of the people they will encounter when they cross the Jordan River. (Deut. 31:6) As Jesus sends out his disciples to heal, cast out demons and proclaim the kingdom of God, he tells them not to be afraid. (Mt. 10:26) When angels appear to Zachariah, Mary, Joseph and the shepherds in connection with Jesus’ birth, their first words are, “Do not to be afraid.” (Luke 1 and 2) Among Jesus’ last words to the disciples were, “Do let your hearts be troubled, do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
For God to place this much emphasis on overcoming our fears suggests that fear plays a significant role in whether we live by faith and make daily decisions in accordance with God’s will and purpose.
While fear is an emotion that is part of our human nature to protect us against threats to our safety, it can negatively impact us in many ways when carried to excess. Examples include fear of rejection and what others may think; fear of being humiliated and corrected; fear of failure and defeat; fear of change and the future; and fear of physical harm and death, to name a few.
Fear can keep us from doing the things we should be doing, cause us to worry unnecessarily about outcomes, and even get us off track in fulfilling God’s will in various areas of our lives.
A couple of years ago, I felt a nudge from the Lord to volunteer with the Chaplain’s office at the local county jail. After completing the training, I must confess that I was somewhat fearful and intimidated by the structure, discipline and strict procedures of the jail environment. Even the sound of the heavy steel doors clanging behind me was intimidating.
After encountering the inmates, however, I came to realize that there was not that much difference between them and me. We are each created by God in his image and likeness, and loved by him in the same way. God has given me a love for these men.
I hurt for them. I desire for them to come into relationship with Jesus and be blessed by his presence in their lives. This love for them has overcome my fear. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18)
Trusting in God and his love for us is the antidote to fear. “The Lord is my light and salvation – whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1)