by Angela Wisdom
There are two kinds of fear:
(1) THE FEAR OF GOD -- Psa. 111: 10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!
When we fear God we will shrink from any actions that would displease God. We'll have reverence, awe and respect for him. This kind of fear is commanded by God. We all should have this fear.
(2) The second kind of fear is: THE EMOTION OF FEAR-- this carries the idea of dread and timidity; apprehension or pain. This is the kind of fear that we'll be discussing. This is the kind of FEAR we are NOT to have.
This lesson is one of the scariest lessons that I believe we can study or think about (Rev. 21:8). The FEARFUL (or cowardly as the ESV states ) will go to hell. That should give all of us pause as we think about fear. Think about THE FEARFUL being "lumped in" with those who don't believe, with the abominable, murderers, fornicators, those who practice sorcery and witchcraft, idolaters and liars. We like to think that being fearful is "not so bad"-- but God says it is!! A study of FEAR should increase our faith. If we have FEAR we are not perfected in love (I John 4:18). We are not finished or complete if we FEAR. Jesus told His disciples not to FEAR their enemies. Courage and bravery is needed to be a Christian.
We are not to fear those who would persecute us. Jesus tells us this as He instructed His disciples in Matt. 10:26 - 31. Paul also instructed the church at Philippi not to fear (Phil. 1: 27 - 28).
I've thought about the subject of fear a lot in regard to Noah (Gen. 6: 8 - 9). The book of Matthew tells us that during the days of Noah everyone was living his life as normal (Matt. 24:38). He was a preacher of righteousness (2 Pet. 2:5). Have you thought about the courage of Noah?? Have you thought about him not being afraid? He preached for 100 years (Gen. 5:32 and Gen 7: 6). He was rejected by his friends and family. He knew they died in the flood. When it started to rain, don't you know he thought about all the friends and family that he had preached to, and their tragic end? Heb.11:7 tells us that Noah had the kind of fear he needed to have -- a reverent fear of God. Because he did not have the wrong kind of fear, he became an heir of righteousness. Because he did not fear he preached to a dying world. Because he did not fear, he saved his family. Are we ever afraid to tell just one friend or family member what they need to hear? Do we ever fear telling a friend or acquaintance about the gospel -- fearing what they may think or what they may say? Maybe we fear our own inadequacies in being able to tell them? Do we fear telling a fellow Christian what they need to hear concerning sins that can cause them to lose their soul?
God has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Tim. 1:7). If we love God as we should, then we will have no FEAR (I John 4:18). It stands to reason that if we fear, our love for God is NOT PERFECT or a Mature love. When we fear we are paralyzed and we don't do what we are capable of doing.
The one talent man in the Parable of the Talents was afraid (Matt. 25:25). He hid his talent in the ground. He failed because he was afraid. FEAR caused him to fail.
Do we ever fail because we don't do what we are capable of? God expects us to do what we can according to our ability. Heb. 6:10 should give us courage: Heb 6:10 For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.
WHAT KIND OF THINGS DO WE FEAR?
Many times we neglect to do right because we are afraid of what people will say or do, or we are afraid of their rejection. Many Jews of Jesus' day believed in Him, but because of fear they wouldn't confess Him (John 12:42).
Many times we fear what people will say, and we fear our relationship with them changing -- so because of our fear we take the path of least resistance and do not say what we should to them. Perhaps we think -- "This person will not like/love me anymore if I tell them what they need to hear."
Sometimes we may fear what others say about us, (Isa. 51:7). Are we afraid of what will be said of us when we take a stand for what is right? We need to remember 2Ti 3:12: "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
When Peter feared the people concerning the problem of circumcision he denied Christ (Gal. 2:12). Peter's actions argued that Gentiles should be circumcised as the Jews, and this was wrong. His fear caused him to take a wrong stand. His fear caused others to be led astray, and Paul had to rebuke him. Trying to please people will cause us to fear, will lead us into trouble and error, and will also lead others away from truth.
FEAR CAN CAUSE US TO HAVE INSECURITY.
We can become afraid that we'll not have the necessary food, clothes or shelter (Matt. 6: 25 - 26). Do we believe what Jesus says? (Matt. 6: 33 - 34). The key to not being afraid is in verse 33 -- "Seek the kingdom of God FIRST".
We can become afraid and discouraged, thinking that we are the only ones taking a stand for what is right, and this can handicap us and keep us from doing what we can for the Lord. This fear can affect us all, but especially the families of preachers, elders and teachers in the Lord's church.
Elijah became afraid in I Kings 19. I I Kings 18 he had just finished killing all the prophets of Baal. Jezebel found out and Elijah had to run for his life to hide from her. While he was hiding at Mount Horeb, the Lord came to him and asked what he was doing there. Twice, Elijah answered God, thinking he was fully justified in his action of hiding ( I Kings 19:10, 14). God showed Elijah His power, and Elijah answered the same way. He thought he had done all he could do in service to God -- after all, hadn't he just killed all those prophets of Baal? The Lord told Elijah he still had work to do. He told him, "You go back to Damascus and anoint Hazael as king over Syria. Then you go anoint Jehu as king over Israel. Then you anoint Elisha as the prophet to take your place."
Then God reminded Elijah of this: 1Ki 19:18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.
FEAR CAN CAUSE US TO FEAR DEATH
All of us are dying. If we live long enough our body starts to have problems (Eccl. 12: 3- 7). Verse 7 in Eccl. 12 is what gives us hope -- "the spirit returns to God who gave it". Our outward body is dying, but our spirit lives on. If we are faithful, this is nothing we should fear, but something we should look forward to.
SO, HOW DO WE OVERCOME FEAR??
FAITH helps us overcome fear. God wants us to be confident in our faith (Heb. 13:6; Psa. 118: 6). We are to have faith that God will do what He says (Isa. 41: 10 - 14; Matt. 10:28; Luke 12:7).
When we are fearful, remember this story in 2 Kings 6: 8 - 17 -- The king of Syria, with his vast army, came against the army of Israel. In defeat, he tried to take God's servant Elisha. God protected Elisha and his servant. God allowed Elisha's servant to see a manifestation of this. We have the same God as Elisha! He does not change. If God would protect Elisha in this way, do we not believe He will protect us as well if we have faith in Him?? I like to think that when God's servants do right today those same horses and chariots of fire are round about them too.
Oh, let us remember this when WE are FEARFUL.