Recently, our church finished a 6-week series on understanding fear from a biblical perspective. Our Senior Pastor, Ben Benavides covered a great portion of this subject which I believe will be beneficial for us as Christians especially considering the current times we are living in. There is a lot of fear on the horizon for many especially when we look at the seemingly unending events that are happening in our country and around the world; events that are a concern to many. Our natural instincts are to become fearful, but what does the Bible have to say about fear? We looked at fear from these different perspectives going through them all examined in the light of Scripture. They are:
1-The fear of man
2-Those afraid of God (an unhealthy fear)
3-The fear of the Lord (healthy Biblical fear which honors God)
Looking at the first one, the fear of man, the Bible has this to say:
Proverbs 29:25 – NKJV – The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.
Scripture says the fear of man will bring a snare. The NLT version translates it “Fearing people is a dangerous trap…”
Many who are hunters, fishers and outdoors types know what a snare is. Snares, which can sometimes look like a small, wiry noose, are used to lure and trap fish or game. And once that animal is ensnared, it really has no way of escaping. The Bible is descriptive that fearing people is like a trap to our souls. Being afraid of people will affect your everyday decisions as it can take on many facets, having an effect on our social life, where we are afraid to be around other people. Fear also makes it so that we are constantly afraid of what other people will think about us or how they may perceive us. An anxious need to receive affirmation and acceptance from other people is a big part of why we struggle with fear.
If we are truthful, most of us want to be liked and accepted by everyone and the thought of someone not liking us or perceiving us wrongly can trouble us. And with that, we will avoid contact with people because we fear not being liked.
There are many other fears that we can struggle with when it comes to people. Some are afraid of people of different nationalities and skin colors (which is more a stereotype), no matter who they are. Others are afraid of authority figures. Still, others are afraid of any kind of confrontation with people through fear. They will avoid saying things that may need to be said that in the end, helps others. However, amongst Christian people, one of the biggest fears, and even a challenge to them is sharing their faith. Many Christians have never shared the good news of the gospel because they are afraid of what people will think of them, even though they have attended church faithfully for years. Yet when it comes to sharing the love for Jesus and their faith in God, they are “tight lipped” because of fear. Fear that they will be labeled a “religious zealot” or “fanatic”. Or afraid that they will be rejected, mocked and laughed at. Some may have even tried to share their faith with a friend or a family member, but was so terribly rejected, that it shut them down and they never shared again and relegated themselves to just being a faithful churchgoer and just “living the life”, both of which are good things in themselves.
In no way, shape or form am I saying that we should “jam truth” down everyone’s throat that we meet. I made the mistake of doing this in my early years as a Christian. When I was first born-again and realized how real God was, I was so excited about Jesus that I wanted the whole world to know and I literally “steamrolled” everyone and anyone with the gospel who crossed my path. In my youthful zeal, I probably did more damage than good, even though I had good intentions (LOL). Eventually, as I matured, I learned to be slow to speak and to listen first (James 1:19), not to cast my pearls (the gospel) carelessly (Matthew 7:6), how to obey that gentle inward “nudge” or “prompting” of the Holy Spirit when He does want you to speak (Romans 8:14), to be “wise” to whom I’m speaking (Colossians 4:4-6) and to know when to sow, which could be just praying with someone, or when to reap, which could be sharing the gospel or leading them to Christ (John 4:35-36). One thing that’s encouraging in the Scriptures. The Bible says this:
2 Timothy 1:7 – NLT – For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline
If being afraid of people is a snare to you as the Scripture says, God can help you. He is an ever-present help in times of need (Hebrews 4:16). And how does He help us? By the Holy Spirit, who has come to take up residence within us!
John 14:17 – NLT – He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.
The Holy Spirit within us does not cause us to be fearful or timid, but gives us His love, His power and the ability to walk in self-discipline. Ask the Lord to help you and He will. He will strengthen you by His Spirit that dwells within you.
Ephesians 3:16 – NLT – I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit.
God can and will help you with overcoming fear as we learn to submit to His Spirit.And this becomes a greater reality when you realize that the Greater One has taken up residence within you in the Person of the Holy Spirit.
1 John 4:4 – NLT – But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.
We will continue on our journey of “how do you fear” in the next issue. God Bless!