“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
SOMETIMES OUR COURAGE FAILS US NOT BECAUSE WE LACK BOLDNESS BUT BECAUSE WE LACK THE RIGHT KIND OF FEAR. We mistakenly think the key to greater courage would be greater self-confidence, and so we fire up our “Can Do!” attitude. After a while, our attitude gets dangerously close to pride. In our mad scramble for greater strength, we forget the meaning of reverence. We no longer tremble before our Creator. We lose our fear of God. And at that point, lesser fears begin to dominate our lives.
Contrary to what many people think, fear is not always a bad thing. If we could find a way to banish every form of fear from our hearts, we would find ourselves weaker, not stronger. The thing that’s wrong with us most of the time is not that we’re afraid, but that we have too little fear for the things we should be afraid of. Fear is not the problem; it’s what we choose to fear.
To be specific, there is too much fear in our relationship with other people because there is too little fear in our relationship with God. “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul,” Jesus commanded, “But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” This is not a command that many of us take seriously, and consequently, we spend our lives fearing what other people can do to us. A healthy measure of godly fear, however, would free us from this “humanly” fear.
Godly fear involves a remarkable irony. When we learn to relate to God with real reverence, we not only become more humble, but we also become more bold. As we grow in the recognition of our weakness versus God, we grow in the recognition of our strength versus the devil (2 Corinthians 12:9). Indeed, the devil can do very little to intimidate those who genuinely fear God. As strong as the devil may seem at times, he is a coward at heart. There are those whom he actually fears, and he is most afraid of those who’re not afraid of him. So we’re told, “Submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
Haven’t we wasted too much of life already in unnecessary fear? Now’s the time to learn where real strength comes from.
“Where the fear of the Lord guards the door, the enemy cannot enter” (Francis of Assisi).