The most repeated commandment in the Bible is “Do not be afraid.” However, in the last book — Revelation — the angel says, “Fear God, and give him glory.”1 And we know that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Obviously we are not talking about that fear which paralyzes us.
But there are fears in our lives other than the healthy and necessary fear of the Lord. It would be easy to believe that these fears are our friends, that they protect us, warn us and take care of us. But there is nothing further from the truth. They dress up as friends, but they lead us into slavery.
The feeling of fear can paralyze us. When we are afraid, the natural thing is to want to save ourselves whatever the cost. So fear drives us to make decisions that have nothing in common with the two great commandments in the Bible — loving God and loving our neighbor.2 It incapacitates us to act out that selfless love. How many times in the Old Testament did God say, “Be not afraid of the words that you have heard”?3 And how many times did the Israelites fail Him, submitting themselves to the enemy — because of fear — rather than believing Him or His prophet? Do a word search in your Bible program on “fear not”. It is worth it.
There is a deeper danger that is less visible but still as deadly. God said in 2 Kings 17:35 “You shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them.” We serve that which we fear. If we are afraid of getting sick, we might just end up constantly going to the doctor, taking lots of vitamins, imagining that every little pain has got to be the worst… We end up serving that which we fear.
If we are afraid of going broke, we try to earn as much as we can, to spend as little as we can, and we end up living like we are poor when actually, we have money in the bank. If we fear a certain person, our father for example, we will do whatever we need to in order to please him. If we see that pleasing him is impossible, we end up rebelling and cutting him out of our lives so we don’t have to live without his approval. The same can be said for the fear of having no friends, the fear of boredom, or the fear of never getting married. We become capable of abandoning Christ in our hearts and going after these other “gods”.
God wants us to trust Him even when the circumstances seem to be threatening. Jesus, when He was talking to His disciples about fear, always countered it by encouraging them to have faith, to trust. The story is told of a certain animal trainer in London that acquired a boa constrictor for his act. He raised the boa since it was little and they became very close. One day, while on stage, as the people were applauding, a scream was heard and a crunching sound. The trainer’s “friend”, the boa constrictor had crushed him.
Fear is not a good counselor. The spirit of fear makes us doubt God. In other words our “good friend fear” crushes our faith and drives us to serve other gods, just like in the Old Testament. We serve that which we fear.
1- Revelation 14:7 2- Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10;27 3- Isaiah 37:6