Taking a look around me, I see panic, anxiety, sometimes anger and much worry. In short, I see “fearful” people.
I hope that doesn’t describe you. But if it does, you have made a very serious spiritual mistake. You are letting fear make your decisions and it’s a result of a lack of faith in God for your life. One can have wise and prudent concern over a matter without becoming fearful.
In 2nd Timothy 1:7 we are told: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” If God has not given you that spirit of fear, who has? The great deceiver “Satan.”
If you are feeling fear you are succumbing to Satan’s temptation to not trust God and once you let your faith and trust falter, Satan is right there to make you worry over everything. This applies not only to the virus our nation is fighting right now but to all of your life in which you face the unknown and unpredictable.
Throughout the Bible, we as children of God are repeatedly told a message of “fear not.”
This is always said very powerfully in the Bible and in a variety of circumstances. Fear not when facing a military battle; Fear not when facing a deceiving or strong foe; fear not when facing troubling difficulties and deprivation; fear not.
The message to us from God is the same now as then, as we face this invisible enemy of a virus which can be communicable on surfaces and present and communicable in people even before they exhibit symptoms, is fear not.
So the answer to my beginning question, should you fear the coronavirus, is a resounding no! So what should you do?
Jesus told us in 1 John 4:18 “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.”
Fear is what you see in those who panic and worry. But what about your feelings of caution and defense? You know there is a danger; you are aware of what is happening. Your natural God-given instinct is to address this in some way in your life, right? Is that fear? No, it’s not. I think it is very important for Christians to distinguish between “fear” is and what “concern” is.
Fear comes from a lack of love which in essence is a lack of faith. It’s thinking all is up to you and others and it manifests in wild, stifling, and dangerous behaviors.
Concern, on the contrary, is a wise rational approach using what God has given you. Concern is a legitimate response to any dangerous situation; while fear is the emotionalism that leads to reactions which can ironically actually increase danger and make situations worse.
Fear always happens when you cease to go to God first, while as concern is the way a believer relates to any situation knowing God is with him, loves him, and will guide him into the correct decisions.
Let’s take another look at that Scripture in 2nd Timothy, it said God has not given you a spirit of fear, instead, God has given you a spirit of 3 characteristics: “of power, of love, and of a sound mind.” Think about each of those in view of the crisis of this virus:
Characteristic 1 — Power: In a world where we see people behaving desperately, it is obvious they feel powerless. This is understandable when relatively unprepared to face any dangerous powerful enemy. It’s how people feel when they are failing to trust God with their life. A true Christian can maintain inner peace, or as Paul described, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)
At all times you can keep this peace regardless of the circumstances surrounding you because God will guard your mind if you seek Him first and abide in His will. The more you do this, you will begin to experience a peace which comes from an awareness of the power you possess as a child of God. No matter the calamities and turmoil all around you, you can face it with the most powerful ally you can have — God.
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). No matter the circumstances, as a believer, you must remember at all times God is with you and is the provider of all things. Residing in this realization brings the peace you should have as a child of God.
Jesus told us, “ Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) Living in His peace makes you view all circumstances entirely differently, not from the powerless weak state of being a mere man, but from the powerful enormously strong position of being a child of God.
Characteristic 2 — Love: How do we receive and evince this perfect love? Remember in scripture we are told to love God with all our heart and then to love all others. To love others requires you love yourself enough to first care for you and those close to you, only then can you be available to serve others.
In circumstances as this nation finds itself now, to love oneself can be shown by staying away from unnecessary risks, avoiding activities that require social contact. It is not loving to expose oneself unnecessarily and neither is it loving to possibly expose others. To love means to forsake your false self which wants to do whatever it wants in some twisted idea of freedom or liberty regardless of the consequences to others. There’s plenty of people like that who want to defy the recommendations or orders and it’s because they are selfish.
Love is never selfish. To love means to place something above your superficial wants and do what is most healing, healthy and considerate of all, even toward those you do not know. I reiterate, love is not selfish. And it doesn’t require being asked or ordered to do what is most considerate of other people as it does so willingly (ordered or not) because a loving individual always wants to do what is right.
Thus in your behavior, activities, and willingness to help or share you love at all times even it means giving up some activities you would otherwise want to do. Love also means praying in this time of much hurt for our President, our Vice President, those who counsel them, our healthcare workers and others who work diligently even at their own peril and for those suffering in any way as a result of the virus.
Characteristic 3 — Sound Mind: The scripture says God will give you a “sound mind.” What you do with it is up to you. The fact is many people do not have a sound mind, and sadly many Christians are far from being examples of being persons with a sound mind. Why? Because they allow emotionalism and a habit of irrationality to control their life and thus get awfully confused about what they should or should not do in a crisis.
They listen to fear and once they start worrying at all it will multiply into all manner of craziness thereby ending any “sound mind” they had previously. A sound mind, like a sound body, requires use/exercise to increase in soundness and to stay that way.
Sometimes weaker Christians, those who lack biblical understanding, get terribly confused in all of life, wanting to do what is right but being confused by the simplest instruction God has given us. What should they do? If they are not to fear, does it mean that they should not alter plans or priorities in order to show faithfulness to God. Should they act like nothing is wrong after all it’s in God’s hands so they need do nothing? No! Absolutely not. God has given us a sound mind, which implies you must use it, to do what? THINK. Not react, not complain, not cast blame, or anything else, you use a sound mind to think.
In my life, I’ve seen numerous examples of Christians showing a lot of stupidity. Frequently they are those who speak of God incessantly, but their lives show them doing such foolish things and when questioned they reply they trust God and dismiss caution. For example, such reckless people might say they will walk down any street even if known to be a dangerous part of town or that they will carry no cell phone for communication on a long desolate walk nor carry a means of self-defense against wild animals or take prudent precautions against evil human beings. They will open their door to anyone who knocks. Some tell me they do not lock their car or home doors, etc.
When it comes to this or anything like the current contagion, they might think it consistent with godliness to either do nothing and behave like everything is the same as before in their quest to not show fear or in another lack of understanding and lack of faith they panic in the ways I described earlier. With either choice, they could not be farther from the truth than if they were a non-believer or atheist.
A sound mind is a mind that is rational, thoughtful and logical. It remains calm and assesses a situation. It does not react — it acts afterthought.
Christians with a sound mind would have years ago anticipated possible disruptions in the economic supply chain or any other unknown situation in which it is either not advisable to go out among people or impossible. A wise individual, and wisdom is prized in the Bible, would have constructively used the resources God has given him to provide for himself and his family.
It reminds me of Jesus’ parable of the talents, where a master left his three servants in charge of a certain amount of money due to his leaving on a trip. On his return, he summoned the servants to see what type of stewardship they had shown. To those who had shown wise investment and use of what had been given and entrusted to him, he gave more. And to the one who had kept it doing nothing, he was punished and would never be trusted with anything again.
God gives us provision. Everything we have is from Him. A sound mind uses that provision wisely to his glory. Those with sound minds — living in God’s love — powerful beyond what the world offers — would have long ago taken steps to be ready for disruption to conventional life. And if not, if circumstances prevented it, which I think would be the case for very few, but let’s say someone did not think that way previously or truly could not have done so, they need to now begin prioritizing and without regard to what anyone else thinks of them.
Wise Christians will use the “power, love and sound mind” God has given them to let their concern lead them to prioritize everything in view of staying safe, healthy and helping their family and those they care about do the same. They will listen to the authority’s guidance and simultaneously they will use their sound minds to do what they consider prudent.
As my father has said for many years: “Crisis reveals character.” Let this crisis be a time you learn and grow from.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, choose faith over fear and let concern be met with wisdom, peace, and strength. Remember what Joshua wrote: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)