As we wrap up this study on our response towards fear, let’s take a look at one final approach:
THE “FEAR OF GOD” APPROACH: What does this approach towards fear look like?
Imagine the following scenario: Something happens in our life that causes us to be afraid, but instead of doing nothing or reacting to the cause/source of that fear, we remind ourselves of whom we fear most: God. As a result of this foundational “fear” of God, we make very different decisions in the midst of this scary situation. With this approach, we have a singular, overriding goal: to please Him above all else.
The reason why a person might take this approach towards fear is multi-faceted:
1. We have seen how misplaced fear can lead us away from God, righteousness, and good decision-making.
2. We are living our lives in close relationship with God and pleasing Him is something that is at the forefront of our mind, no matter what the situation might be.
3. We have studied our Bibles and we are aware of what God has to say about fear, specifically our fear of Him:
a. Ps. 19:9 – The fear of the Lord is “clean, enduring forever,” as opposed to the fear of anyone/anything else, which might be more accurately described as “warped and fleeting.”
b. Ps. 23:4 – If we walk with God, we have no reason to fear evil.
c. Ps. 25:14 – If we fear the Lord, we will know things that can help us through scary situations
d. Pr. 1:7 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, and if we will fear Him above all else, we will be prepared for every situation!
e. Pr. 14:26 – When we fear the Lord, we will have confidence and security.
f. Mt. 10:28 – If we don’t fear the Lord, we should be aware of the consequences of that decision
g. Ph. 2:12 – Our relationship with God is to be characterized by a reverent fear, even after we have been saved from our sin.
h. 2 Tim. 1:7 – God has not created us to fear other people/things!
Along with this approach towards fear, we will probably see a willingness to endure temporary trials, persecutions, difficulties, etc., a very real sense of peace concerning those things, and a living hope that there will be a reward for fearing God above all else.
By way of example, let’s take a look at two people in Scripture who took this approach towards fear:
1. King Jehoshaphat – 2 Chr. 20 – During Jehoshaphat’s reign, the Moabites, Ammonites, and others came to battle against him (vs. 1). After hearing about this, the king was afraid (vs. 2-3), but what was his response to this fear? We are told that his fear led him to “seek the Lord,” and all of Judah followed his example (vs. 3-13)! Because his fear led him towards God, he was delivered from this scary situation and even turned entire countries to turn their fear towards God as well (vs. 14-39)!
2. Nehemiah – Neh. 2 – Nehemiah was a cupbearer to the king of Persia when he learned of the “distress and reproach” of God’s people in Jerusalem (Neh. 1:1-3). These reports caused Nehemiah great distress and he prayed, determining that he would do something about it (Neh. 1:4-11). When Nehemiah was confronted by the king concerning his obvious “sorrow of heart” (2:2), he became “dreadfully afraid” (2:2). What would this fear cause him to do? According to Neh. 2:2-5, Nehemiah’s fear led him to trust in and pray “to the God of heaven.” He told the king what he knew about the condition of his people, as well as his plan for how to help them. Because Nehemiah feared the Lord more than he feared the king of Persia, God put him in a position where he could help His people!
There is no question that this third approach towards fear is more acceptable to God; however, it is also much more viable from a “common sense” perspective, isn’t it? After all, don’t we all seek to “conquer” our fears instead of being conquered BY them?
When we give up control of our lives to a loving and powerful God, we put ourselves in a position to have HIM in the “driver’s seat” of our lives instead of “giving the wheel” to fear. Is there anywhere else we would rather be?
As Jesus once said, “…whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Mt. 16:25).
May God help us to fear Him above all else, and to trust that He will take us through every scary situation that life might bring!