Friday, July 11, 2008

Fear is Failure

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity,
but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
        2 Timothy 1.7

What's Our Problem?
Over and over and over again, the Scripture tells us, “Don’t be afraid.” In the Old Testament, God says this almost 100 times. In the New Testament, angels inevitably start their messages with “Fear not.” Jesus’s sermons and discussions repeatedly return to these words: “Be not afraid.” The early church’s leaders committed a great deal of time and ink in their epistles to spell out why we shouldn’t fear. In his first letter, John writes, “Perfect love drives out fear.” The writer of Hebrews says, “I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Finally, with only two exceptions (Titus and Philemon), every one of Paul’s letters address fearful mindsets and why believers should overcome them.

What is our problem? How come we’re constantly battling our fears—fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of commitment, fear of punishment, fear of error, fear of controversy, fear of criticism, fear of prejudice, fear of stereotype, fear of fear, and every other imaginable fear?

Always a Reason
No matter what we attempt in this life, we’ll always find reasons to be afraid of it. But fear is completely manmade, fabricated by knowing just enough to realize our knowledge is inadequate. When we fear, we trust what little we know instead of trusting God, Who knows everything. We grab the map and the steering wheel, leaving Him in a cloud of our dust. We use what little we’ve got instead of relying on all He’s given us. Solomon famously left us this advice:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own 
understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will 
make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3.5-6)

God and Fear

Paul told Timothy, the young evangelist he mentored, our fear doesn’t come from God. It’s alien to His nature. He can’t give us a spirit of fear because He has none to give. Instead, He gives us the best He’s got: power, love, and self-discipline (or sound reasoning). With those attributes at work in our lives, there’s simply no logical excuse to be afraid of anything.

His power supersedes our limited capabilities and influence; His love changes how we view and approach our situations; His self-discipline teaches us to be patient and productive. He tells us not to fear. If that's not good enough for us, we’ve got bigger problems than whatever has us feeling so intimidated in the first place. We think we fear how or why we might fail when, in reality, it’s already happened. Fear doesn’t prevent failure. Fear is failure.

Fear in action: closing one's eyes to God's love, power, and sound thinking.

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