[Do not be] afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. The LORD of hosts, Him you shall hallow; [Let] Him [be] your fear, And [let] Him [be] your dread. – [Isa 8:13 NKJV]
I don’t know about you, but I have become engaged in fear way too often. Sometimes I have feared what other people think about me. And other times I have feared the unknown, and the possibility of something bad happening to my family or me. I have feared the idea that I might not be able to provide for my family the way that I should. I have feared that I may lack the ability and discipline to complete the task that God has called me to do.
But I don’t like fear. Many times fear is unfounded, and it is definitely unpleasant. It consumes your thoughts and fear can paralyze you. It isn’t helpful at all, but rather a distraction that keeps you from operating at peak performance. For example, if you have to engage in public speaking of some sort you may be afraid that you will mess up; you may be afraid that you will say the wrong thing; you may be afraid of what the people hearing you might think of you. But you may not realize that fear itself is the thing that is causing you to mess up and causing you to say the wrong things and causing others to think negatively of you!
The bible has a lot to say about fear:
“Fear not” (Gen 15:1 and numerous other places)
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Mt 10:28)
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim 1:7)
“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Lk 12: 32)
“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Lk 12:7)
“Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied” (Acts 9:31)
“The LORD [is] my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Heb 13:6)
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love” (1 Jn 4:18)
“Do not be afraid of their faces, For I [am] with you to deliver you, says the LORD.” (Jer 1:8)
The theme is clear throughout the entire bible: there is only One whom you are to fear and that is God.
But we fear so many things and we do it so needlessly. If only we were perfected in the love of God! Then fear of any kind would be a thing of the past! Don’t you know that God has every hair of your head numbered? If He knows and cares for you so intricately, then why should we fear anything at all? Is He not powerful enough to deliver us? Is He not strong enough to save us? Is He too poor to provide for us? Is He too far off to stand up for us?
I like what our title scripture tells us to do about fear. It tells us to switch our earthly fears over to a heavenly fear of the Lord. The passage says, “Let Him be your fear; let Him be your dread.” We submit to the one we fear the most. If we fear man,we will submit to the opinion of man, but if we fear God we will not be moved by the opinions of man because we will be too caught up with the idea of displeasing the God we love.
The times are too numerous for me to recount of when I have shied away from doing God’s will because I feared the opinions of others. The mistake I made was that I spent too much time thinking about how man may view me instead of meditating on how much God loves me. Perfect love casts out all fear, the bible says. We need to be made perfect in love and the fear of man will be dispelled.
Fearing God is different than fearing man. Although an unrepentant sinner should be in terror of His fierce judgment, we His children don’t fear Him in that sense. God is our Father and we love Him very much and He loves us, so we aren’t like those who are hardened towards Him, but we fear Him as a son would fear to displease his earthly father whom he loves. We fear His rod of discipline, we fear the rebuke of His mouth. But even if we are rebuked by Him and disciplined by Him, it is only for our good, that He might cause us to bring forth the fruits of righteousness.
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.” (Jesus in Rev 3:19)
Let’s fear God instead of fearing man. Let us dread the idea of ever displeasing Him. If we really feared Him in the appropriate way we would run from sin and cast away the fear of man. Set your mind on things above and not on earthly things. The more real He is to you the more you will be confident in the face of earthly terrors. You will say confidently with David: The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?!