The Things That Are Killing Us–Fear

Posted: September 6, 2010 in Uncategorized
I practiced law in West Virginia for a few years where they say the most oft-repeated last words are, “Hey! Watch this!”
 
Fear may be a gift from God protecting us from doing something stupid or it may prevent us from living a life that matters.
 
We are taught from a very young age that what really counts in life is how much money you can make and much stuff you can accumulate but the problem with that is that often leads to a life filled with nothing but emptiness and regrets. 

Scripture outlines a life where we go into troubled places to bear the light of Christ–this is often dangerous.  Many followers of Jesus long to live such a bold life but are held back by fear.  Why do some Christians risk life and limb while others don’t?
 
The Bible contrasts fear not with courage but with love. 1 John 4:13-21 reads,
 
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
 
So, it is love that drives out fear but before we talk more about that we need to define love. 
 
Too often we define love as being loved rather than loving. When we daydream about “love,” both men and women think about security while men think a lot about sex and women think a lot about romance. Notice that both define love in terms of what they get from the other. 
 
Yet, the Apostle Paul states that love is never “self-seeking.” (1 Cor. 13:4-5).
 
Tim Keller makes the point brilliantly by contrasting love for a child and “love” for a spouse.
 
We expect very little from a child, we just love them despite the trouble they cause us!  My wife and I brought home our son from the hospital seven years ago and for the first few months all he did was poop, pee, scream and refuse to sleep, yet my wife and I would have died for him. 
 
I see Godly parents whose kids fall into addiction, steal, go to prison, etc. and the parents still bend over backwards to help them because they just love them with all of their heart.  The parent isn’t getting much, in fact the opposite, but that doesn’t matter.
 
Yet, we often define romantic love by what the other is doing for us, which is why so many marriages fail.
 
Why put up with kids but not spouse? If you define your love based on what you get day-in and day-out then your “love” will die.
 
True love is not based on what you get but is built upon the great worth of another. This is how God loves us–like a parent looking at a newborn child.  This kind of love is very, very powerful.
 
So, returning to our question, why does the Bible contrast fear with love?
 
Love asks, “What can I do for others?” but fear asks, “What will others do to me?”
 
Biblical counselor Jay Adams writes that fear “keeps a wary eye on…possible consequences.”
 
Love moves towards others while fear shrinks away but, fortunately, the latter is stronger than the other for love can cast out fear.
 
The author of Hebrews knew this love when he stated that he didn’t fear man because there is nothing man can truly do to him (Hebrews 13:6).  How is it possible to have such courage? Out of love for God.
 
Do you know the Bible actually commands courage.  Look at Revelation 21:8 and note who is the first to be judged–it isn’t the liar or the sexually immoral, it’s the cowardly. Why? The cowardly don’t truly love God or they would do whatever He asked without fear of others. 
 
A petite 110 pound, minivan driving soccer mom will fight like a wolverine to defend her child out of love and if we truly love God then there should be no obstacle placed in our path that we are not willing to tackle.
 
Yet most of us fear the judgment of our fellow fallen creatures because we simply value them more!
 
Ask yourself what is the object of what you fear.  Is it God’s judgment of your actions or the judgment of others?
 
Both are dealt with in the same way, which is what the Bible calls, “the Gospel.”
 
The Gospel is defined by what Jesus did on our behalf, which included bravely facing his fear of the cross and being ripped away from the Father and the Spirit for the only time in eternity and all because of his great love for us.
 
Jesus absorbed the Father’s righteous judgment upon sin on behalf so that we never need to face it and he lived a perfect life to give to us as a gift so that we can live eternally under his perfect, peaceful rule.  Such great love should break your heart and grow your love for God until you fear nothing for “what can man do to you?”
 
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