Fear or Faith; You Choose

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 which is the 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 NIV 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.

The Bible clearly teaches that Christ followers are not to worry. In Philippians 4:6 NIV we are commanded, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

In this Scripture, we learn that we should bring all of our “needs and concerns” to God in prayer rather than “worry” about them. Jesus encourages us to avoid worrying about our physical needs like clothing and food. He assures us in Matthew 6:25-34 NIV that our heavenly Father will take care of all our needs.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Therefore, we have no need to “worry” about anything. 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”  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.

So what should you do? Jesus told us in 1 John 4:18 NIV “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. It is very important for Christ followers to distinguish between what “fear” is and what “concern” is.

“Fear” comes from a lack of “love” which in essence is a lack of “faith.” It’s creates “feelings” thinking all is up to you and others to solve the problems and in turn manifests itself 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 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 1:7 NIV. It said God has not given you a “spirit of fear,” instead, God has given you a spirit of three characteristics: “of power, of love, and of a sound mind.” Think about each of those in view of the “divine” disruption by this virus crisis.

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 Christ follower can maintain inner peace, or as Paul described in Philippians 4:7 NIV “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

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 in God.

Romans 8:31 NIV tells us “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” 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 in John 14:27 NIV “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.” 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. And it doesn’t require being asked or ordered to do what is most considerate of other people as it does so willingly 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 if 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 pandemic virus.

Characteristic 3 — 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 exercise to increase in soundness and to stay that way.

Sometimes weaker Christians, those who lack 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 since all is in God’s hands and thereby they need do nothing? No! Absolutely not. God has given us a sound mind, which implies you must use it to do “think.” Not react, not complain, not cast blame, or anything else, you use a “sound mind” to think.

I’ve seen numerous examples of Christians showing a lot of “foolishness.” Frequently they are those who speak of God incessantly, but their lives show them doing “irrational” things and when questioned they reply they trust God and “dismiss” caution. For example, 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 walks. Or carry a means of self-defense precautions against evil human beings. They will open doors to anyone who knocks without concern. Some tell me they do not even 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 lack of “faith.” 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 after careful thought. In 2 Chronicles 15:5-6 NIV it says: “In those days it was not safe to travel about, for all the inhabitants of the lands were in great turmoil.  One nation was being crushed by another and one city by another, because God was troubling them with every kind of distress.”

Christians with a sound mind would 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, wisdom filled individual would constructively use the resources God has given him to provide for himself and his family.

It reminds me of Jesus’ parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 NIV 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, they need to now begin prioritizing and without regard to what anyone else thinks of them.

Wise Christ followers 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.

Crisis reveals character. Let this crisis be a time you learn and grow from. Choose “faith over fear” and let concern be met with “wisdom, peace, and strength.” Remember what Joshua wrote in Joshua 1:9 NIV: “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.”

Like me, you’ve read too many articles and heard too many reports on the present pandemic already. Right? So, let me get quickly to an immunization, not of the virus, but of the “fears” which may arise from it. These are the facts that counter “fear” for Christ followers during any life disruptions or when facing other prospects of death.

  • Every Christian will die, unless the Lord comes back first.
  • The number of days you live makes little difference in the light of eternity. 
  • God is in charge of the time and circumstances of your death.
  • Worrying about dying and death does not change anything.
  • God always uses means to deliver his own to heaven.
  • God has a purpose for the timing and circumstances of your death that is better than your purposes for living.
  • No believer in heaven will want to return to earth once there, until Christ brings the saints back with him to reign on a new earth.
  • Your body will be changed when Christ comes and will be raised from the grave to be united with your returning soul.
  • If you are alive when he returns to set up his reign on earth, your body will also be changed and will rise to meet the Lord, and to unite with your soul.
  • The believer will then come with Christ the conquering King to reign with him on “the new earth, where righteousness dwells!”
  • When you die, you will be the happiest you have ever been!        

I leave you with the following “poem” by Sir Walter Raleigh (1552 – 1618), “Epitaph” found in his Bible in the Gate House at Westminster. I hope you will “meditate” on it, and perhaps “memorize” it. Don’t escape from it until you fully understand its “meaning.”

Even Such is Time

Even such is Time, that takes in trust
Our youth, our joys, our all we have,
And pays us but with age and dust;
Who, in the dark and silent grave,
When we have wandered all our ways,
Shuts up the story of our days;
And from which earth, and grave, and dust,
The Lord shall raise me up, I trust.

We live now on the threshold of a different dimension, covered by a nearly opaque veil. Use the time well. It is short and challenging. It is a time of testing and muted joys. You are closer to that “dimension” than you know, and every reminder of death should only stir you up to make the most of the days you have left to bring as many with you as is possible into that “new earth” and to rejoice in what is ahead in the light of eternity.

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