Preaching Articles

“Why did you fear? Where is your faith?” (Mark 4:40)

It’s so easy for a preacher to exhibit fear and not faith when standing before the church and calling the congregation to faithfulness and righteousness.

Fear is not your knees knocking.  Fear is not the beads of perspiration popping out on your forehead or the trembling of your hand as you do this very hard thing.

That’s courage.

To go ahead and do the difficult but right thing when you know full well that some are not going to like it take real courage.

Courage is in short supply in church work these days, I fear.

Fear often sits in the drivers seat.

Fear backs down. Fear puts job security above everything else.  Fear dreads the wrath of certain church members with a spiritual gift for making life miserable for the Lord’s pastors.

Fear does not want to rock the boat, wants everyone to be on board and happy before any decision is made, and does not sleep when one church member is upset.

Fear hesitates to do anything unusual, anything that has never been tried before, anything outside the normal practice, anything that might be questioned. Faith establishes that the status quot is the path, now walk in it.

Fear rejects change whereas faith loves the new things the Creator God is always producing.

Fear rejects the new and holds on to the old whereas faith appreciates some things of the past but is never wed to the instrument, only committed to the Master.

Fear wants to placate those who can cause the most trouble;  faith wants to please the Savior at all costs.

Fear gives in to threats; faith takes note of the threats, then ignores them and goes ahead.

Fear rejects something God wants because of how it might look, what outsiders may say, out of a desire to please the world. Faith understands such caution but has learned to scoff at it..

Fear refuses to take a chance on people. Faith never misses an opportunity to do just that.

Fear refuses to go ahead when the path is not clear, supplies are not on hand, and the vote is not 100 percent.  Faith obeys, regardless of how far it can see, what it has on hand, and how many are in favor.

Fear refuses to go out not knowing where it is going. Faith follows.

Fear is overly cautious. “Lord, I knew that you are a hard man. You reap where you have not sown. So, I hid your talent.” (Matthew 25:24-25).  Faith knows that he who saves his life shall lose it (Luke 9:24) and “Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abides alone. But if it dies, it brings forth much fruit” (John 12:24).

Fear never steps out of the boat. Faith says, “Lord, bid me walk on the water, too!”  (Matthew 14:28).

Fear will not tithe. “What if I should lose my job?”  Fear will not witness to his neighbor. “What if he gets offended?”  Fear will not speak before a large group. “I get nervous.”

“Fear has torment,” Scripture says.  And it does indeed.  (I John 4:18)

There is of course a proper place for reasonable fear.  That’s why we carry insurance policies, buckle our seat belts and never step off high buildings.  We lock church doors at night and station security people around the building during worship and other events.  We are not “afraid” so much as cautious, knowing that we live in a fallen world when evil people delight in doing bad things to anyone claiming to follow Christ.

There is also something that looks a lot like faith but which is presumption. (See Psalm 19:13)  Presumption means going where the Lord has not sent us, doing what He has not requested, claiming what He has not promised, and expecting Him to come through on something merely because we want it.  For Peter to have stepped out of the boat without a command from Jesus and expecting either to walk on water or the Lord to catch him would have been presumption.

“Why did you fear?” the Lord asked the disciples.  “Where is your faith?” (Mark 4:40)

I suspect that when we stand before the Lord at Judgment that will be the question of the hour.  We were given so many opportunities to do wonderful things for Him, and accomplished so few because of our fears.

Faith compliments the Lord.

Fear insults Him.

And believe me, friend, you and I do not want to be insulting the Lord of Heaven and earth.

Dr. Joe McKeever is a preacher, cartoonist and the retired Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans. Currently he loves to serve as a speaker/pulpit fill for revivals, prayer conferences, deacon trainings, leadership banquets and other church events. Visit him and enjoy his insights on nearly 50 years of ministry at

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Christopher Conner

commented on Aug 27, 2016

I love this. Thank you!

E L Zacharias

commented on Aug 29, 2016

Good article, on the whole. Fear is tentative and apologetic in the worst sense, bending to the will of the people instead of seeking the will of God. However, one should not assume that faith means trusting that NEW is always IMPROVED, or that it APPROVED by God. Members and even professional church workers can come up with some really bizarre ideas that are guaranteed to make the church buzz with the Spirit of God. They might say that you are wrong to reject their ideas, claiming that you are a man of fear and not a man of faith. The man of God needs faith and fortitude to declare that their ideas do not square with the Word of God and therefore would not square with the will of God. Faith not only leads the faithful, it also opposes and blocks the entrance of teaching and practice that is would confuse or potentially harm the body of Christ. Faith is not a blind acceptance of people or ideas; faith holds to the good and rejects that which is questionable, for the sake of truth and the good of the Church, the people of God, in Christ.

E L Zacharias

commented on Aug 29, 2016

A corollary to this is that the man of God should be open to correction. The ideas may seem contradictory to the Word and Will of God. Talk, listen, discuss. A pastor may introduce practice that seems good and right, but which is actually harmful to the church. To glorify God is first to honor his Word and living according to it. The church that seeks the glory of God has to be sure that they are not in fact just seeking their own glory; that they are truly focused on the purpose for which God has given and not a purpose that distracts them from the one goal of bringing people to saving faith in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Sandra Leightner

commented on Dec 23, 2021

being open to correction might takes tons of courage. . Thank you for adding that comment to a very good article.

Sandra Leightner

commented on Dec 23, 2021

in the time of cancel culture and the church losing membership, courage is needed more than ever. Thank you for reminding us to Fear Not.

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