One morning I was meditating on this scripture and the Lord showed me something profound! It's like a treasure hidden right out in the open, on the busy streets of downtown suburbia. People pass by it everyday never picking it up. Once picked up, it is a life-changing phenomenon. I want to share it with you!
Yes, we all know that being fearful is a negative thing and we need to eliminate our fears. Fear causes a variety of health problems, and is the source of all kinds of mental illness and dsyfunction in relationships. But we need to gain a deeper understand of how fear affects us.
Franklin D Roosevelt at his first inaugural speech said, "The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself!"
Well said, FDR. Nothing is more fearful than fear itself. This is because fear paralyzes!!! Fear brings down the mighty, shackles the collossal, and herds the masses in docile submission.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, BUT of power, of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Tim 1:7)
Fear is the opposite of power. It's the opposite of love. And it is the opposite of a soundness of mind.
Fear strips you of power and ability. Fear prevents you from going forward. Fear distorts your vision till you view every obstacle as a giant and you are the grasshopper.
Fearful people are absolutely no fun to be with. They are afraid to do anything! One time a friend from overseas came to stay with me for a few days. I was planning to go visit a state park for an afternoon with her and another friend and her four-year-old sister. She talked me out of it! She said, "There's a lake at that state park. What's going to happen if her four-year-old sister drowns in the water???"
That reasoning was so ridiculous because we weren't planing to go swimming. And even if we were going swimming, we were perfectly capable of watching a four-year-old and playing with her in the water. The likelihood of my friend's little sister drowning was almost nonexistent. But we were impacted by her fear. So we didn't go. Instead, we stayed home and did nothing.
When you are fearful, you feel helpless and weak. Although intelligent and capable, your fear makes you feel as if you are dumb and inferior compared to the next person. Your fears make you a dependent and a minor, even though you are an adult. You feel like you need to have someone go with you, face challenges with you, and be your moral support. Fear robs you of the power of God in your life.
Not only that, when fear is present, love is nonexistent. Fear and love are mutually exclusive. You cannot love someone and fear him at the same time. For fear has to do with punishment. There is no fear in love. (1 John 4:18) Consequently, there is also no love in fear. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of love...for He is Love. His perfect love drives out all fear.
In the Old Testament before the dispensation of grace, God and his people had a relationship based on fear. God was to be feared! No one has an arm like God! (Job 40:9) People trembled in His fearsome presence, hoping that they can keep His commandments well enough to escape judgment.
But when Jesus came and ushered forth the dispensation of grace, He cancelled the debt between God and man. He laid the foundation for a totally new kind of relationship, one that's based on perfect Love. Because of love, our hearts are drawn towards God. Because of love, we want to please Him. Because of love, we want to know Him and His Kingdom and Truth. Perfect love drove away the fear factor between God and man. Now we can serve an Almighty God without fear.
Back to the subject of fear. Fear makes you weak, takes away your ability to love, and thirdly - it eats away your soundness of mind.
We can all think of many instances where someone, (most likely ourselves), acted with an unsound mind. We look at what happened and think, "How comical! how ridiculous!" But it all started with fear.
Once when I was ten, I saw an amorphous dark shape (looked like a bug) in the middle of the kitchen floor. I was home alone. I was so paralyzed with fear over that motionless gray, leggy, potential bug that I sat in the living room for six hours! The only door out of the house was through the kitchen, which meant if I wanted out, I had to walk pass that bug. Which I could not do! For six hours I sat, reading nervously, calling my dad's office a dozen times, waiting for a less fearful family member to come home and...rescue me.
I really wanted to go outside and play. But I couldn't walk pass the bug. Over the phone, my dad suggested a dozen things I could do: Swat it with my shoe. Step on it. Jump over it. Put a glass over it. Put a laundry basket over it. All of those are very easy-to-follow, common sense things I could do... if I weren't so afflicted with unsoundness of mind.
The nature of fear is illustrated in this pathetic childhood memory of mine. Fear paralyzes! Fear immobiles! Fear deflates! Fear controls! Fear hallucinates! Fear makes you unreasonable! Fear injects you with its venom, and suddenly you can do nothing but stay put, keep your head low, and hold on tight till the miserable ride is over.
In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the parable of the talents. The first two servants took their ten and five talents, and doubled their profits upon the master's return. They were not afraid of the master; therefore they took business risks, worked diligently, and made handsome profits. The third servant was afraid of the master. Therefore he did nothing!!
He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sowm and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.' But his master answered him, 'You wicked and slothful servant! you knew that I reap where i have no sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents..." (Matthew 25:24)
The one-talented servant didn't invest because he was afraid of the master. He was afraid of losing the master's money. He was afraid of making the master angry. He was afraid of failure. His fear so debilitated him, that he could not do anything. While the other servants were diligent and creative and daring in their business endeavors, he was lazy and did nothing.
The master returned and looked at the talent wrapped up in a dirty hankerchief, and branded this servant with two adjectives: "wicked" and "slothful." These two adjectives describes to the tee, everyone who is smitten with fear:
1. "Wicked." This word comes from the root word "wicker," which means "twisted and braided together." God called this man "wicked" because his mindset was twisted and braided together with fear, devoid of a sound mind. His fear has made him unreasonable.
2. "slothful" means "sluggard, indolent, lazy." Being paralyzed by fear, the man became afraid to do anything. He became passive, inactive, undisciplined, and unwilling to do much of anything.
The lazy man says, "There is a lion on the road! A fierce lion is in the streets!" (Prov 26:13)
The lazy man actually believes this in his heart. He believes that there's no point in going out to work, because a lion is on the road and in the streets.
So you see, fear is the source of two major problems in our daily lives as well as in our society. Fear produces twisted, unreasonable people AND, fear produces lazy, slothful people!
Recently I felt God moving me towards a new business venture. Fear could easily grip me, telling me to stay put, play it safe, avoid failure. If I listen to the voice of fear, (who speaks to me all the time) I would do nothing. I would continue with my life as it is because it is much easier to deal with the familiar than to try to do new things. But faith in God provides the energy, the force, to push back that controlling voice of fear. It's faith in God that loosens the snare which holds you immobolized in place. (Proverbs 29:25)
It's true that many fearful people are also quite diligent. You might be one of them. Think about how effective your diligence and industrious lifestyle would be if you weren't bound by fear. Instead of diligently canning vegetables to save for winter you could be doing something so much bigger... diligently using your God-given talents to shake the culture of an entire generation, and never having to worry about your finances because you took the risk to pursue your calling, and now your work is impacting to the world.
The first two servants were brave and diligent. They were willing to take risks, invest wisely, and try new things because deep down, they knew one thing: the master's talents were failproof! These were lucky seeds that will bring an auspicious return! No matter where they invested the talents, they were sure to succeed!
This confidence is the opposite of fear. Fear is the belief that you are doomed to fail. The voice of fear always whispers in your ear, "Don't do that. It's doomed for rejection, embarassment, failure, or mediocrity. It'll never fly." But faith, or confidence in the Lord, says the opposite. It says, "The talents God has given me are good. They are perfect. They are failproof. They are doomed for success and favor and blessing. They are simply waiting for me to put my whole heart and mind and soul into it! So roll up your sleeves and get to work! And work at it with all of your might until it brings in an abundant return!"
P.S. My dad informed me upon his return - the gray leggy bug was nothing but a piece of dark dryer lint!
Lord, thank you that you have not given us a spirit of fear. Instead, you've given us the power to effect change. You've given us love for all of humanity. And You've given us a soundness of mind, wisdom, and intelligence to make things wonderful. Lord, please deliver us from all fear so that we can be like the first two servants. They were confident that the master's talents were failproof, and they worked dilligently to bring back a return that made you proud. Lord, we want our lives to be like that. Please liberate us from all of our fears!