Summary: Discover God’s building blocks for developing confidence in life.
In the September 21, 2001 San Francisco Chronicle, the headline read, "Freedom and Fear Are at War." The truth is fear is at war with many aspects of life, not just with freedom. Fear wars against our health. Fear wars against making good decisions. Fear wars against obedience to God. Fear interferes with all of life.
Fear is not all bad. But fear that wars against our confidence in God is bad. The fear that causes you to dodge an oncoming car is not bad. The fear that causes you to live within your budget is not bad. Yet, there are fears that stress our health and kill us prematurely. The fear of disapproval by people can make us bland and even disobedient to God. When fear wars against our confidence in God, fear is destructive to living.
The current fears many in this room experience include the fear of disapproval, the fear of inadequacy, the fear of unemployment, the fear of being drafted into active military service, the fear of future terrorist attacks, the fear of biochemical warfare, the fear of certain illnesses, and the fear of death. These objects of fear are not a present reality for many of us. But for those who are experiencing these realities, your fears and responses to your fears may create more problems for you than your realities.
Fear is like a fire alarm. Fear signals us of danger and calls our mind and body to respond for survival. Unfortunately, many people’s alarm and their responses to the alarm have been set incorrectly over the years. Some parents program their children with repeated lies such as, "If you don’t get A’s in your report card, you will be a failure in life." We produce perfectionist adults who are afraid of ever failing.
Others have grown up with models of cowardice. Their constant self-protection leads them to lives of dishonesty. The media violence has programmed the fear alarm of many Americans. The responses are paranoid thoughts that interfere with reality.
Painful childhood experiences program many to fear things that adults need no longer to fear. Sexually abused children have problems with intimacy as adults. And finally, distorted concepts of God produce fear in people. Many want nothing to do with God. Others have relationships with God that are characterized by guilt and shame.
To reprogram our fear and our responses to the fear in order for fear to be of help rather than to be destructive in our lives, we need to plug our lives into God’s power, to be loved in order to love, and to exercise self-control. For the remainder of this message, I will detail out these three actions for us to realign our fear to serve its intended purpose in our lives. Before I do that, let me identify some ineffective ways to deal with fear.
Some people deal with fear by pretending not to be afraid. They fake confidence, but instead of exuding confidence, they exude arrogance or insensitivity. Others deal with fear by denying the existence of the object they fear. They don’t go to the doctor because they might find out they have a serious illness. Still, others deal with their fear or the object of their fear by calling on their dead ancestors. The Bible tells us in Luke 16 that our dead ancestors cannot be of help to the living.
The Bible offers a life-transforming and lasting solution for moving from fear to confidence. The Apostle Paul wrote to his protégé, Timothy, in 2 Timothy 1:7, "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (or cowardice), but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline (or self-control)."
Timothy was a young pastor at the church of Ephesus, and the Apostle Paul was his mentor. Paul encouraged Timothy in the first letter to not let others intimidate him because of his young age. Timothy was afraid of being inadequate as a young pastor.
In this second letter to Timothy, Paul reminds Timothy that any cowardice in his life did not come from God’s Spirit; rather God gave him a spirit of power, love and self-control. Power, plus love, plus self-control equals confidence.
Now I’m not talking about power that comes from money, material possession or manipulation. All of us know people who have wealth and influence but lack true confidence. Only God’s Spirit can give you the power you need for enduring confidence. Only God’s Spirit can give you the love and self-control you need for true confidence. Let me detail out God’s building blocks for confidence and then conclude with how you can receive God’s Spirit.
FIRST, we move from fear to confidence by being plugged into God’s power. The fear of unemployment, of war, of future terrorist attacks, of the unknown beyond the grave are all tied to two major fears: The fear of inadequacy and the fear of death.