<<dread, being afraid>>

Man’s two basic fears are rejection (the loss of love and acceptance), and the loss of significance (being recognized and valued). The love we crave is found in relationship. The consuming ache to be fulfilled and make a positive difference, which is viewed as the meaning for our existence, is addressed through participation. In Christ, we have a love relationship that will last eternally, and involvement in the Kingdom of God gives us a purpose to live for.

There are various types of fear – ranging from a rightful respect or reverence of God, to a feeling of trepidation or anxiety because of some action or attitude on our part, and a wise apprehension of possible harm.

Holy fear

The fear of God is a healthy respect, reverential awe, outworked in loyalty, faithfulness, total commitment and submission to the Almighty, enabling man to respect God’s authority, obey His commands and avoid all forms of evil (Jer 32:40; 2 Cor 7:1). The fear of God is important as it keeps Him in His rightful place and keeps me from sin (Ex 20:20; Deut 6:7-9). Whether we “Choose to fear the Lord” or not is a decision we make – both options have far reaching ramifications (Prov 1:26-33, 2:1-5). There is a marked distinction between those who fear God and those who don’t (Mal 3:16). God searches the earth to find those whose hearts are fully committed to Him – those who have learned the fear of the Lord. When He finds such people He will strengthen them, manifesting divine favour in and through that person’s life (2 Chr 16:9). Choose to be such a person.

With the right fear (awe, respect, reverence) we see God as a friend; with a wrong fear (afraid) we see God as an enemy. We are to worship God because of who He is, what He has done, and what He is doing (Ps 33:6-9, 103:11-13, 130:3,4; Jer 10:6,7; 1 Jn 1:9). We  are not to be afraid of God because He created us for His pleasure and for intimate friendship with Himself. This is a key to salvation and

Do I have this kind of respect for God?

wisdom (Isa 33:6). The ‘fear of the Lord’ is our motivation to hate evil, having the same attitude towards sin as He does and to love divine wisdom (Ex 20:20; Ps 36:1; Prov 8:13; 2 Tim 2:21). If we lack the fear of the Lord, we will continue to sin; yet coming into a right understanding of God is the beginning of wisdom and the duty of man (Job 28:28; Ps 111:10; Prov 1:7; Eccl 12:13).  It is our responsibility to “Fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body...” (Prov 3:7,8, 16:6).

The fear of God has a flow-on effect, resulting in respect for life and dealing justly with other humans who are made in His image. “What does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear Him, to walk in all His ways, to love Him and serve Him with all your heart and soul” (Deut 10:12; Mic 6:8). Such a lifestyle results in His blessing (Deut 5:29; Ps 103:17, 115:13). The focus of Jesus was to reverence and glorify the Father’s name by doing what He instructed – and so should we (Lk 11:2; Jn 5:19,30, 12:28). Keeping the first command is to fear the Lord through loving Him with all our heart (Ex 20:3; Deut 10:12,13; Josh 24:14; Mk 12:30).

The fear of the Lord can be learnt through reading the Bible and is demonstrated or outworked in faithful obedience ensuring total integrity in ministry, leadership and lifestyle (Ex 1:15-22; Deut 4:10, 17:19, 31:12,13; Ps 2:11, 119:9,11; Dan 3:18; Jn 14:21; Act 5:29; 1 Jn 5:3). Like the early church we should cultivate this honour and respect for God, living in the fear of the Lord and obeying other authorities without compromise unless they instruct us to do what is opposed to God (Act 4:19, 9:31; Rom 13:6,7; 1 Pet 2:17).

We are guided when we have a close relationship with God, resting content, experiencing protection and provision (Ps 25:12,14, 33:18,19, 34:7,9, 128:1-4; Prov 19:23). It is to our benefit to fear God for He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him, they will know His

This is the right fear to have

mercy and acceptance (Ps 145:19, 147:11; Jer 32:38,39; Lk 1:50; Act 10:35). Devotion to and reverence for the Lord will assist to “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” by keeping away from all that which would displease Him (Phil 2:12; 1 Pet 1:17).

Crippling fear

Being fearful and afraid because of the unknown, guilt, mistakes and failings, or the fear of people which is an unhealthy concern about what they think and do, brings a snare or mental entrapment (Gen 3:10; Prov 29:25).  These types of fear are the result of a preoccupation with self, the outcome of some wrong action or an incorrect mental view (low self-worth) on our part that needs addressing.

The fear of guilt and sin is dealt with by confession and repentance. If the anxiety is because of sin or a blunder on our part, we should own up and put the matter right, resolving the wrong and endeavouring to live rightly, while if it is because of a less than acceptable performance in our work situation we may need to gain more training and experience to prevent a repeat.

At the core of our being we all fear rejection in some form. This can become a prison, keeping us constrained and preventing us entering into the glorious freedom we have in Christ Jesus to love and live for Him.

Don’t let fear rob you of your future and potential. Challenge your fears and step outside your comfort zone, for fear is largely False Evidence Appearing Real. Commit your plans to God, confident that “No weapon formed against you will prosper…Greater is He who is in you than is against” (Isa 54:17; 1 Jn 4:4).

The fear of people, such as being unduly nervous of speaking in front of a crowd, is a learned behaviour pattern that can be corrected, through training and receiving the antidote of His presence which brings the love of God

Fear invites control, love creates freedom

which drives out fear (2 Tim 1:7; 1 Jn 4:18). Because we are God’s children, we receive His nature, which is love not fear (Rom 8:15; 1 Jn 4:7,8). The more God-conscious we are the less self-conscious we will be.

The fear of rejection, uncertainty, death and other things can be conquered by yielding and allowing God to rule in our mind as we focus on Him (Rom 12:1,2; Col 3:15). Fear or intimidation (peer pressure) can stifle our witnessing, living for Christ, or even acknowledging we are His followers (Lk 22:54-60). Admit there are fears within but don’t let them prevent you from doing what God wants. Rely on the Holy Spirit to give boldness to witness and ability in new or challenging situations (Act 1:8; Phil 4:13).  Fear distorts our perspective, limits His provision, keeps us from the purposes of God, causes us to disbelieve His promises and disobey His principles. Fear is believing the devil’s lie.

Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of man who can only kill the body but respect God who can destroy both” (Mt 10:28; Heb 13:6). “He is my salvation – who shall I fear?”  (Ps 27:1). “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Ps 118:6,7).

We can overcome this fear by: confronting it (not running from or ignoring it); confessing it as a sin to God, that you have obeyed it rather than Him; claiming His promises of protection (Deut 31:6; Ps 118:6; Prov 3:25,26; Isa 41:10); cultivating a close relationship with God; having a positive confession – “I sought the Lord and He delivered me from all my [wrong] fear” (Ps 34:4).

Refuse the self-fulfilling prophesy of “What I feared has come upon me” (Job 3:25). Declare over your life the promises and blessings of God.

The divine message to us is, “Fear not…I will not abandoned or fail you” (Josh 1:5; Heb 13:5). Don’t let fear rob you of your spiritual inheritance and moving forward in God.  Of the 12 spies that surveyed the Promised Land only Joshua and Caleb entered it as they

Don’t let fear rob you of your future

were not fearful but followed God wholeheartedly (Num 14:24; Deut 1:36). The negative confession of the other 10 spies kept them and all those who accepted their fear statements from entering. God expects us to do what He has instructed, so step out in faith and take the first step. “Fear not, only believe" (Lk 8:50). The choice is to either get upset – the natural reaction, or to pray and see God move – the spiritual and better response. Don’t respond to new challenges with fear, instead focus on God’s love and faithfulness in past times being confident He is still the same, yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8).  God wants us to follow out of love not fear. “I will not fear evil or even death for you are with me” (Ps 23:4). 

Healthy fear is a natural apprehension stemming from self-preservation when faced with danger, risk or the unknown. It is a God-given attribute to enable us to cope with life. This was the type of fear the disciples experienced in the boat when it was about to sink (Mk 4:37-40; Lk 8:22,23). In such situations act sensibly while maintaining confidence in God; challenge your fears, yet use common sense.

See also: comfort zone, love, peer pressure, rejection, self-esteem, self-fulfilling prophecy, thinking/thoughts.