“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18 NIV).
Fear. Who has not experienced fear in their lives? It has been present in the world since Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the garden of Eden. One bite of the forbidden fruit was all it took for the enemy of our souls to introduce fear into the world, and it’s been one of his most proven modus operandi ever since. You can read the story for yourself in Genesis 3:1-8.
The causes of our fear are numerous, but there are some fears that are common to mankind. Fear of failure, rejection, or abandonment; debilitating diseases or illnesses; death; or the unknown are just some of them. They can be rational or irrational, short lived and quickly dismissed, or a continuous assault that can be paralyzing. Fear can come from real danger or from our imagination, but it can also be a hidden factor of motivation in how we do life. According to lexico.com, an online dictionary powered by Oxford, the phrase “fear factor” is defined as “a feeling of apprehension or fear, usually viewed as a reason not to do something.” Fear is experienced through our emotions, and depending on how it presents itself, can cause us to hide, cower, lie, avoid unpleasant circumstances, or back down or away from what we know we are to do. It can rob us from the blessed life God has planned for us.
In the King James version of the Bible, “fear” is spoken of over 500 times. In fact, the phrase “fear not” or “be not afraid” is mentioned specifically over 100 times. Read Isaiah 41:10, Joshua 1:9, Deuteronomy 31:6, John 14:27, Isaiah 41:13, and Isaiah 43:1. These are but a handful of verses that tell us not to fear.
However, there is also another fear factor that is mentioned and that is the fear of the Lord. This fear does not reside in our emotions but resides in our spirit. It is one of the attributes of the seven spirits of the Lord mentioned in Isaiah 11:2. “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:2 NKJV).
The fear of the Lord is what God required of His people. This was not so they would be afraid of God, but a way that led them to walk in love and relationship with Him. “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?” (Deuteronomy 10:12-13 NKJV).
Just as fear in our emotions can motivate our actions, this fear factor can also motivate us; but walking in the fear of the Lord will bring about many positive rewards rather than the negative effects of emotional fear. “Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment” (Proverbs 9:10 NLT).
According to Proverbs 19:23 ESV, “The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.”
“In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, and his children will have refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death” (Proverbs 14:26-27 NKJV).
“Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land. The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.” (Psalm 25:12-14 ESV).
“The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life” (Proverbs 22:4 ESV).
Psalm 34:7 ESV tells us, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.”
Key Thought: In the times in which we live, it’s hard to escape the onslaught of fear poured out through the pandemic, politics, news, social media, and just society in general. God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity but of power, love, and self-discipline. Fear can be overcome by choosing to walk in the fear of the Lord, trusting Him to show you what you need to do.
Call to Action: Ask the Lord to help you identify any fears you may be struggling with and declare the following scripture as an antidote for those fears: “And He will be the stability of your times, a wealth of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is his treasure” (Isaiah 33:6 NASB).
~ Laura Strack