“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” -2 Timothy 1:7
A few weeks ago, I was reading the story of Jonah for my Bible time. As I was reading, I found myself wondering why Jonah felt the need to run from God. I mean, he was a prophet! Didn’t he know that his job would call him to do dangerous things? As soon as the thoughts crossed my mind, God convicted me of something- how many times do we, like Jonah, run from what God has called us to do because of fear? This conviction led me to think why we as Christians let fear hold us back from obeying God. This thinking led me to a conclusion of three reasons why fear holds us back and how we overcome these reasons.
1. We are afraid of what people think of us. Have you ever felt God asking you to do something that you didn’t do because you were afraid of what your friends/family/co-workers would think? The fear of man is something that holds many people back from being all God created them to be. When we fear man rather than God, we are making ourselves servants to man instead of God. In doing so, we are making ourselves bear an unnecessary burden that will make it hard to walk according to God’s will. God does not want us to worry about what others think of us. He wants us to make His opinion first in our life (Acts 5:29). Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.” In the dictionary, snare means “a position or situation from which it is difficult to escape.” The fear of man is not an easy problem to reverse. There is only one person who has the power to overcome it- Jesus. Oswald Chambers once stated, “The remarkable thing about God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else; whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.” This is so true! The fear of God is the only thing strong enough to replace the fear of man. To be able to learn how to fear God, we must first understand what it means. The fear of the Lord is the realization that you serve a holy, powerful God, and it is also the desire to honor Him in all you do. Once we learn to do this, our bondage of the fear of man will be overcome.
2. We are afraid of failing. The thought of failing is another fear that holds people back from obeying God. For example, suppose you feel God asking you to witness to a non believer. Immediately, thoughts like, “What if I only make them angry?” or “What if they ask me questions I can’t answer?” come to your mind. Sound familiar? These are all fears of failing at what God has asked you to do. The reason we have these fears of failing is because we forget that God has not asked us to go out alone, but with Him. God is not going to ask us to accomplish any task with our own power. If He did, we would have every reason to be afraid of failing. Human strength cannot get the job done- only God’s strength can. That is why He stands right beside us through every task instead of sending us out alone. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” When we keep this in mind, we see clearly that God will give us the strength we need and words to say (Luke 12:12) to accomplish whatever He asks us to do.
3. We are afraid of persecution. The moment we ask Jesus into our heart, we are surrendering our whole life to Jesus to do with as He sees fit. The sad thing is, there are many people who don’t know this. Some people think that you need to only follow a list of do’s and don’ts instead of truly surrendering your whole self to God. But, this is not at all true. God wants all of us, not just parts and pieces. This also means that we must be willing to go through persecution and hardships for Jesus. Paul makes it very clear in 2 Timothy 3:12: “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” This can be a hard topic to think about because as humans, we don’t want to have to go through persecution. But when we look at what Jesus did for us, we should be just as willing to do the same for Him. If you struggle with surrendering your whole life to Christ because you fear persecution, pray and ask God to give you a love and boldness for Him that will drown out your fear. Jesus was willing to be laughed at and scorned for us; let us be willing to do the same. He let others spit on Him and call Him names for us; we should be willing to do the same. He faced death for us, and I pray we would all be willing to do the same for Him. He is a King worth dying for.
Obeying God should always be first in our life. This is why it is so important for us to overcome anything that stands in the way. By learning to fear God, lean on Him for strength, and have boldness for Him, we will be able to defeat fear’s foothold in our obedience to God.