Summary: Overcoming fear is a great and constant challenge, unless we have submitted in faith to Christ.
OVERCOMING THE FOUR “F”s: FEAR
I want to begin this morning by asking a question. Does anyone among us struggle with fear (if so, please raise your hand)? . . . Ah, I see that we even have some who are afraid of admitting that they get afraid!
Let’s face it, we all have fears. Some are real and some are imagined. Some are very serious and some are quite silly. Some may simply cause us to hesitate, while others may literally paralyze us or even control our lives. What are you afraid of? (SLIDESHOW) Shots? Flying? Getting caught in some mischief? Lightning storms? Losing your hair? Snakes or spiders? Heights? Enclosed spaces? Commitment? Losing your job? Bad hair? Rejection? Loneliness? Death? The unknown or uncertain? Telling people about Jesus? Or, are you just afraid of being afraid?
Just the other day my son, Isaiah, was asking me if I was really afraid of anything and what. You better believe it! I fear harm coming to my family, failing my family in some way, not having what it takes, rejection, and losing my physical independence, just to name a few. Or, as DC Talk famously put it: “What if I stumble, what if I fall?”
Are all fears equal? How much do our fears really impact our lives – who we are, what we do, how we interact with others, and even our relationship with the Lord? How, as Christians, are we to understand, face, deal with, and even overcome our fears?
I.TYPES OF FEAR
NOT all fears are equal. Not only does their intensity and affect differ, but also their purpose and nature. Essentially, there are only two kinds of fears.
A.) Good - Good fears are those that are necessary to keep us. . .
Safe. For example, fear of fire, driving too fast, harmful addictions, abuse.
Physically Healthy. i.e.: Eating too much junk food, eating unknown plants or substances, pushing oneself too far, cliff diving.
In the early 80s it became the rage for wayward teens to spray certain cleaning aerosols into a bag, then breath it in for a high. Of course, this was very unhealthy and even deadly. The manufacturers wanted to stop this, but feared that a larger warning label would just make it more attractive to these teens. Victor E. Schwartz, the consulting lawyer, asked his clients “What do kids worry about more than death or injury?” He explained: “How they look, of course. So we wrote the warning to say that sniffing the stuff could cause hair loss or facial disfigurement. It doesn’t, but it scared the target audience and we haven’t had a liability claim since them.”
Spiritually Healthy. i.e.: Fear of God, sin, temptation, false teaching, ignorance.
B.) Bad – Bad fears are those that, either directly or indirectly cause us harm, physically, mentally or spiritually.
Of course, even a normally good fear taken to an unreasonable extreme can become dangerous!
For instance, at 36-yrs-old I still have an unconscious fear of swallowing anything that is not food or drink. Now, at times this is not such a bad thing. However, when I am sick and need to swallow a pill it can be a bad fear that inhibits my health.
Jesus taught us to choose our fears carefully. Mt. 10:28
For the rest of our message this morning, we will examine what Scripture reveals about first the effects of fear, and then how we may overcome fear. In fact, fear is one of the most addressed topics in Scripture. We couldn’t possibly explore all the verses that speak to this subject, but we will summarize what Scripture teaches us using select verses – mostly from the Psalms.
To help us all better digest and remember these important points, I’m going to ask you to do something a little different. All of our Scripture texts will appear on the screen and, as I lead, I am going to ask you all to read each passage aloud with me. Yes, I know that for many of us, this can be uncomfortable and even fearful. But, then, isn’t that the point this morning?
II. THE EFFECTS OF FEAR
A.) Turn to Higher Power – Ps. 37:1-3
Of course, this can be either a benefit or a danger!
It is a great benefit, if our fear lead us to faithfully turn to Jesus.
Or, it can be a grave danger if t lead us instead to turn to someone or something else: a fallible human, narcotics, false gods or idols, money, or other sources of human power.
B.) Sin & Isolation – Ps. 37:7-8
Sometimes, we respond to our fears rashly and impulsively. This can easily lead to sin and/or seeking to outrun our fears by isolating ourselves – even from friends and the Lord Himself!