“’Don’t be afraid,’ Moses answered them, ‘for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of Him will keep you from sinning.’” (Exodus 20:20 NLT)
Hundreds of times throughout the Bible we’re told to “fear not” or “don’t be afraid,” yet isn’t fear healthy on some levels?
When I was in sixth grade my friend asked me to set off firecrackers with him. A young boy’s delight, right? But these weren’t just the little “pop” type firecrackers, they were “blockbusters” and “cherry bombs,” the kind that deserved extra caution. Things went well for a while, then we found one without a fuse. “Set it aside and move on” would have been the wise action to take, but being the budding scholars that we were, we decided to see if we could set it off without a fuse. Dumb idea.
It went off in my right hand (I still have scars to prove it). After the initial shock, all I could think about was getting home to my dad. He would know what to do. We were two scared little boys.
Fear generally drives us in one of two directions, either inward or outward. We try to stuff it because we’re afraid of what others would think of us, or we seek help from those we love and/or trust. Fear can be a very good thing when it compels you to seek your heavenly Father.
Exodus 20 begins with God giving the children of Israel the 10 Commandments. It’s a terrifying experience for them. Thunder and lightning, smoke billowing from the mountain, and loud blasts from the ram’s horn. They were so frightened they told Moses: “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us or we will die!” That’s the context of the verse above where Moses tells them not to be afraid because God is just sending them a warning to stop sinning.
If I could have known then what I now know about the consequences of the sin I treated so casually when I was young, I believe I could have been much more fruitful for the Lord in my life. In a similar way that two boys learned a hard lesson about mishandling fireworks, and the Israelites learned to fear God, can we now learn to fear sin and let it drive us to our Heavenly Father? Running to Him with our temptations and fears before they become sin, can save us a lot of heartache, disappointment, guilt, and shame.
Fear can be a foreboding foe. It can paint for us a picture of what’s to come or be a signpost of what we must avoid. Henry Ford was right when he said: “If you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right!”
My wife and I watched a movie recently where the central character made an interesting observation. He said our minds are like magnets that draw to us what our thoughts create. Another character in the movie was very negative, always assuming the worst. He said to her: “Why don’t you begin to think about what you want, rather than always thinking about what you don’t want?” Good advice.
Rather than allowing our fears to create for us a negative result, why not allow the Lord to give us a renewed mind that enables us to see God’s awesome power moving us in a new direction, with a positive, God-ordained outcome?
Jeremiah, the prophet, recorded God’s words when He said: “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” When your fear drives you to the arms of Jesus, it can be the best thing that ever happened to you.
Blessings, Ed 😊