Fear, it can be an incredible motivator or a compelling deterrent. But should Christians let it be the dominating factor in their decision-making? The Bible encourages us to have “godly fear”. Remember the words of Joshua when he encouraged the children of Israel, “Now, therefore, fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD” (Joshua 24:14). A healthy respect for God’s power and judgment is crucial if one is going to have a right relationship with Him. Ananias and Saphira learned this the hard way (Acts 5) when they lied to God’s apostles for accolades among the church. Their punishment was death. The church, however, learned from their mistakes, “And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many, as heard these things” (Acts 5:11)
Godly fear is necessary, but should one go about as a scared little rabbit nervous to make a move lest someone punish them? What about death? Should Christians hide in their houses worried that one wrong move might cost them their life?
The first-century church had been gifted the spirit to show God’s power through miracles, signs, and wonders, so that everyone would know they were messengers of God, and that God was on their side. When Paul wrote to Timothy, he reminded him of this, “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:6).
For Christians today, God has not shown us his power so that we can be nervous servants. We should be like Peter in Acts 4 when those in power pressed him for doing good works by saying, “And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?”. And his response? “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him…” When we know the power of God it should embolden us not to be fearful but rather to stand up with courage and face our fears.
To be loving is the next attribute Paul brings to Christians’ remembrance. Without God’s love, we would be lost and destitute. Paul wrote to the Romans, “and hope putteth not to shame; because the love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us. For while we were yet weak, in due season Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:5-6). If we are ever afraid of things out of our control we can remember that while we were weak, or unable, Christ stepped in out of love and died for us. If he is willing to do that then why should we be scared in the face of other unknown factors?
The final attribute Paul reminds Christians to have is a sound mind. James wrote, “But if any of you lacketh wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). God has promised Christians the wisdom to conquer any struggle faced in life. He has not hidden the answers atop a great mountain that only the strongest may know His wisdom. One has but to ask him and he gives more than asked.
So, remember the words of David when he wrote, “When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me. In God will I praise his word: in the LORD will I praise his word. In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me” (Psalm 56:9-11).