“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” 2.2 Timothy 1:7
I don’t think of myself as fearful. Not unless I am very high up or potentially within a mile of a snake. But maybe fear — the kind that God warns us against — is more than that. I’m rethinking the issue of fear and wondering how much I allow it to creep into my life.
Yesterday, at the end of Disciple Now weekend, a youth pastor was our guest speaker and used Revelation 21 as his text. As John saw in his vision, “He who sits upon the throne” spoke about the new heaven, the new earth, and the new Jerusalem. One thing He mentioned was those who would not enjoy, and the list includes the fearful:
“But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Rev. 21:8)
The cowardly? Listed among the liars and the unbelieving and the immoral? That’s what He said.
So is that me? Sometimes, I fear, it is. I don’t mean common phobias, but a more dangerous fear that gets in the way of God’s blessings.
I fear rejection, so I am timid in sharing the Gospel.
I fear being unpopular, so I am inauthentic.
I fear doing without, so I don’t give as I should.
I fear losing control, so I don’t trust as I should.
The list goes on, and these are symptoms of other things. I fear rejection and unpopularity because sometimes I look to other people instead of God to define my worth. I fear doing without because of insufficient trust in God’s provision and because of a materialistic nature that is so warped, I confuse luxuries with necessities. I fear losing control because I want to be the one on the throne.
I am afraid whenever I take my eyes off God and trust in myself. Faith is the cure for fear, and God is quite serious about it. For if we truly believe Him and trust in Him, why should we be afraid?
What to do? Watch out for fear that crops up in unexpected places, and for the deeper sins the fear reveals. Ask for the “spirit of power” that He promises. And rely on His word. Do you know how many times God tells us not to be afraid? There is a list of verses below that I made for just such occasions. God would not tell us over and over to be courageous if He were not willing to make us so.
We can all be immoral. We can all be liars at times, or idolaters, or unbelieving. But for the grace of God, there would be no one with Him in the New Jerusalem. His grace is sufficient to cover cowardice, too, and if we allow it, to give us a spirit of courage.
We need not be afraid.
“Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Josh. 1:6-9
“Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” Gen. 15:1
“Do not be afraid, for I am with you.” Gen. 26:24
“Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them.” Deut. 20:3
“Be strong and courageous . . . Be strong and very courageous. . . . Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Josh. 1:6-9
“Don’t be afraid.” 2 Kings 6:16
“Be strong and courageous, and do the work.” 1 Chron. 28:20
“Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” 2 Chron. 20:17
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.” Is. 41:10
“Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD. Dan. 10:19
“Be not afraid, O land; be glad and rejoice.” Joel 2:21
“Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp.” Zeph. 3:16-17
“Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong.” Zech. 8:13
“You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Matt. 8:26
“So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Matt. 10:31
“Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.” Matt. 28:5
“Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Mark 4:40
“Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Mark 6:50
“Do not be afraid, Zechariah.” Luke 1:13
“Do not be afraid, Mary.” Luke 1:30
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Luke 2:10
“It is I. Don’t be afraid.” John 6:20
“Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
“Take courage!” Acts 23:11
“Be men of courage; be strong.” 1 Cor. 16:13