Fear Not


George went to a psychiatrist and frantically said, “Doc, I’ve got trouble. Every time I get into bed, I think there’s somebody under it. I can’t relax. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in years! I’m going crazy! Can you help me?”

“Sure,” replied the psychiatrist. “Just come to me three times a week for the next six months and I’ll cure your fears.”

“How much do you charge?”

“A hundred dollars per visit.”

“I’ll think about it,” said George.  

Six months later the doctor met George on the street. “Why didn’t you ever come to see me again?” asked the psychiatrist.

“For a hundred bucks a visit? A friend cured me for ten dollars.”

“Really? How?”

“He told me to cut the legs off my bed!”

Everybody is fearful of something at some point in their life.  Sometimes people get over their fears; sometimes they do not.  Regardless of what we find ourselves afraid of, we must admit that the fear is real.  It may not be a rational fear, but it’s real nonetheless. 

It appears that Timothy was exhibiting some fear in his work as an evangelist in Ephesus, for Paul gently rebukes him:  “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord…” (2 Tim. 1:6-8).

We’re no different from Timothy; we can also be timid and afraid from time to time in our lives as Christians.  Maybe we’re afraid of what our friends will say if we disagree with them on some spiritual point.  Could it lead to some sort of hard feelings?  Might it cause a wedge in our friendship? 

Or maybe your boss at work wants you to work on Sundays or Wednesday nights when you should be worshiping and gathering with the local church to study and encourage one another.  It’s much easier to not cause waves by requesting those times off.  After all, your boss probably wouldn’t understand, and it would cause a hardship for you at work.  It might lead to a strained relationship or it might even lead to being forced to look for other employment.  Are you afraid of the consequences of making a stand for what’s right?

We know we need to be busy with evangelism, sharing the gospel with our friends, coworkers, schoolmates, and neighbors.  But what if I don’t know what to say?  What if they reject what I’m saying?  What if they ask a question I don’t know the answer to?  What if they disagree with me and I don’t know how to respond?

All of these fears (and many more) are real fears, but as Paul said, God didn’t give us a spirit of fear!  That’s the devil trying to keep us from doing what we know we need to do.  Instead, he gave us a spirit of power – his power.  “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might” (Eph. 6:10).  It’s not our own power that we should be relying on, but the power of God that he is so willing to give us – the power that is able to defeat the spiritual forces that we’re fighting against.  “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you.  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Is. 41:10). 

We also have God’s love with us.  He cares for us, will help us when we call on him, and give us the victory.  Knowing he loves for us gives us a sense of calm and peace that we need to overcome our fear.  God has also given us a sound mind.  A sound mind is one that’s sober, that’s disciplined, that’s focused on things above rather than things on earth. 

Yes, we’ll endure hardships and suffering just as Jesus did.  We’ll be ostracized, rejected, and face problems as a result of standing for what’s right and proclaiming the gospel message.  But we need not be afraid.  Faith overcomes fear and doubt.  Faith gives us courage.  Faith gives us victory.  “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith” (1 John 5:4).

Over 300 times in scripture, God says, “Fear not.”  Fear is real, but recognize it, and then address it and overcome it by turning to God’s power and love and having a mind focused on those spiritual matters rather than temporal earthly matters.