We all have fear… and should. What we need to be concerned about is which fear we’re dealing with. There are three kinds.
There’s Good Fear
This fear should be a part of every person’s life… what the Bible calls “The Fear of The Lord.” It is clear that God wants us to have this fear and, in fact, will bless us for having it. The word really means “an awe-filled respect or reverence toward.” Good fear is essential in the life of anyone wishing to please God.
“They shall be My people, and I will be their God; and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them.” Jeremiah 32:38,39
God is pleased when we show Him reverence, or awe-filled worship. This is a “fear” that is essential in the life of every Christ-follower. When we find ourselves in bewildering trials and tribulations, we can go reverently to the Father and ask Him for the wisdom to know things will work out for our good.
The fear of the Lord leads to life, So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil. Proverbs 19:23
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
Then There’s Bad Fear
This is a fear of consequences. We know there’s a penalty for consciously disobeying a Holy and Just God, and, in our own stubborn disobedience, we know we deserve God’s punishment. This fear is “bad” in the sense of being negative. But, God has wonderful uses for it.
God uses the fear of consequences to convince people who have never acknowledged that they are sinners that they need to do something about it by coming to Christ as a loving, forgiving Savior. The Holy Spirit can use this fear of punishment to give motivation for seeking salvation from the coming judgment.
“I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.” 2 Corinthians 7:9,10
God also uses this fear of consequences when Christians are aware of sin in their lives… sin that interrupts their daily fellowship with, and blessings from, the Lord.
The positive result of the fear of consequences in the life of a believer is confession. We know we’ve sinned and the Holy Spirit has helped us recognize it. Then, He gives us the desire to re-establish that wonderful fellowship we have with the Father and places us back into His perfect will for our lives.
We Finally Arrive At Ugly Fear
This is the worst but most common of the fears. It is also the fear that is the least useful and most avoidable in the life of every Christian – the “ugly” fear of worry-filled expectation.
We are often placed, whether by our own actions or by circumstances beyond our control, in a place surrounded by scary “what ifs.” What if this happens… or what if it doesn’t? What if, what if, what if…?
The anticipation of negative possibilities can be paralyzing. We begin to face each day thinking the worst is going to happen. We “hunker down” expecting our lives to be catastrophic and by the end of a day spent in anxious thoughts and fearful inactivity we get a day of stressful nothingness. The devil then whispers in our ears, “See, I told you so… now tomorrow is going to be even worse.” And our fear grows until it’s out of control. Like the monster hiding in our closet when we were kids, our expectations make something that is not there appear to be a real danger. If we turn on the light the monster just isn’t there, but if we never turn that light on our fear can freeze us into inactivity and depression.
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
Martin Luther made this interesting observation,
“God and the devil take opposite tactics in regard to fear. The Lord first allows us to become afraid, that He might relieve our fears and comfort us. The devil, on the other hand, first makes us feel secure in our pride and sins, that we might later be overwhelmed with fear and despair.”
So, as we hold to our “Good” fear of loving the Lord our God, let us set aside the “Bad” fear of punishment for sins Christ has already forgiven, and destroy the “Ugly” fear of worry over our negative expectations.
God is in control! DO NOT FEAR!
Think about it.