Summary: Challenge to face the fears which may hinder our service to God.
Fear’s poison, FACE it!
IL: As an elementary age kid I received a present which made my life complete. I finally had my very own set of cowboy boots! I was so proud of them, I would have slept in them if my mom would have allowed it. I have 2 cousins who were born the same year as me. When our families got together, naturally, we hung out together. One day, we were all together, running around outside. I was showing off my new boots, and for some reason, we got into my grandfather’s garden. It had been raining on freshly tilled dirt, and I started sinking. I was sure I had found quicksand and my life was in danger. I cried out for help and my two heroic cousins came to my rescue. They tugged on my arms while the mud tried to pull me under. It was a close call, but the next thing I knew, I was free! To my utter horror, the evil mud had kept is stranglehold on my boot, and I was sure it must be sinking to a China! I cried out, “Save my boot!” Thankfully, they were able to retrieve it as well.
Fear. It conjures up a lot of thoughts doesn’t it? Maybe it was the darkness at night. Maybe you feared monsters in the closet or under the bed. Whatever it was, it quickens our pulse and fills our system with adrenaline. It activates our fight of flight response. Some like that feeling and ride thrill rides, watch horror movies, attend hounded houses, and such.
However, fear can be a poison. It can cripple us and freeze us in our tracks. There are people today who won’t even leave their house out of fear. They can’t seem to handle the outside world. They are crippled and trapped in their home due to fear of what might be out there. That kind of fear poisons us and robs us of the victorious life Christ has in store for us.
That fear makes us timid in sharing our faith. It keeps us silent when we should take a stand. If not corrected, it can lead to the death of churches.
Paul spoke to his son in the ministry in 2 Timothy 1:6-7 about fear. He said, “ Therefore, I remind you to keep ablaze the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” HCSB
God’s Spirit works in our spirit to transform it. This new spirit of ours is different. God removes fear and doubt and replaces it with the drive we need in order to advance His Kingdom!
Let’s examine this passage in more detail.
1. No fear
God has not given us a spirit of fear. Some versions translate this as cowardice and timidity. The word used here is always used in a negative sense. It is describing to us that God doesn’t make us cower in fear of the things He called us to do. In context, Paul is referring to cowardice before unbelievers.
Many Christians, like Timothy, need to be reminded of this. We are plagued by weakness and timidity today.
Timid Christians fear the reactions of others if we stand out and speak out. They are burdened with wondering what others will think if we live too differently from them. Timid believers worry about how others will react if we disagree with what they say and do. Remember, fear within exaggerates external fears. Though they might react badly, it usually isn’t as bad as we make it in our heads.
This type of fear paralyzes us with worry. We start imagining all that could go wrong. It bogs us down and traps us in inactivity. We become ashamed of appearing different.
There are several troubling consequences of being fearful. An especially troubling one is we silence our witness. When we should be proclaim God’s love to the people in our lives, we keep quiet. They are in need of the Lord. They need to find forgiveness for their sins and the new life that comes through Jesus Christ. Yet we allow fear to stop us. Why is that? We think, “what if they ask a question I can’t answer?” Or “What if they get mad at me?”
At the risk of sounded unsympathetic, SO WHAT! We have the truth they desperately need. Why would we withhold it from them? It is like a lifeguard sitting by and watching someone drown. The struggling swimmer is thrashing and reaching desperately for help. They are going under and will die without help. What if in that situation the lifeguard sat by worrying about the embarrassment of responding to find it a false alarm? Or thinking, maybe they want to drown…. I don’t want to offend them by ruining their suicide attempt.