I think it’s safe to say that we are all afraid of something. In this world we are taught to be brave and face our fears head on, but that’s usually easier said than done. For many of us, fear truly is our greatest enemy. It keeps us from being at peace and enjoying life. It also keeps us from living the abundant life God has given us.
For the sake of my own curiosity, I decided to do an internet search for some of our most common fears. The following is a list of what I found:
- Circumstances (heights, enclosed spaces, the dark, etc.)
- Animals/Insects (spiders, snakes, wild animals, etc.)
- Nature (hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc.)
- Man (terrorists, thieves, murderers, etc.)
- Ourselves/Emotional Fears (public speaking, intimacy, failure, rejection, commitment, etc.)
- Death (what it will be like, life after death, not leaving a legacy, etc.)
I see one major thing in common with every fear listed above – they are all fears of things in this world. The Bible tells us that as children of God, we have nothing in this world to fear. (Psalm 27:1-3)
The Bible also describes another kind of “fear” – the fear of God. This fear is much different than our worldly fear. Fearing God requires us to see God for who He really is – the all-powerful, all-knowing Creator of the universe. He literally holds the world in the palm of His hand.
So when push comes to shove, there are really only two types of fear – the fear of this world and the fear of the Lord. The difference has to do with our response. One type will cripple you. It will cause you to want to run and hide. The fear of God, however, will set you free. When the Creator of the universe is on your side, there is nothing in the world left to fear.
As I said before, the fear of God requires you to truly know and understand the Father’s heart. Jesus tells us in the book of Matthew that God has the power to destroy both body and soul in hell. Unfortunately, many in this world only see God as harsh and cruel. They get hung up on the idea of a vengeful God, and all they see is the wrath. However, Jesus didn’t stop His description of the Father there. While speaking of God’s authority and power, He reminds us how much God loves us.
Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. – Matthew 10:28-31 (NASB)
God isn’t just a loving God. He is love. He loves this world so much that He sent His Son to die for it. Yes, God can destroy both body and soul in hell; but as His children, we don’t have to fear Him in that way. We are extremely valuable to God. This world can never separate us from God’s love. (Romans 8:38-39)
Whatever you fear most will ultimately be the thing that motivates your thoughts and actions. The fear of this world will paralyze you. It will lead you into sin, and it will keep you from living a full and abundant life. The fear of God, however, will set you free. It will motivate you to action instead of cripple you.
The fear of God allows Christ’s love to control your thoughts and actions instead of your earthly fears.
The Bible tells us that one day, every single one of us will stand before Christ to be judged. Which type of “fear” will you feel in that moment? Will you be paralyzed in fear of Him and His judgement? Or will you stand confident before Him with fearful awe of who He is and what He has done for you?
The choice is yours.
*Unless otherwise indicated, scripture quotations taken from the NASB.