Appendix VIII: NO FEAR IN LOVE
The English dictionary defines fear as: the feeling one has when danger, pain or trouble is near; the feeling of being worried or excited and wanting to run and hide.
A healthy concern and a hesitant caution are good things. These feelings are not fears although they can be precursors to fear. There are many things that cause us to fear. The things we tend to fear the most are:
• Harm—fearing something bad will happen to me
• Embarrassment—fearing I will be exposed for being or doing something others think is foolish
• Failure—fearing I will not be successful
• Loss—fearing I may lose what I have
• Future—fearing what will happen or not happen
• Unknown God—who may judge and condemn me
If fear is entertained for any sustained time, it can produce many ill side effects. Stress is one such side effect which can result in tunnel vision, loss of perception, and errors in judgment. Fear is also known to raise blood pressure and delete the immune system, inviting many physical and psychological maladies.
Old Testament Scriptures translate two very different Hebrew words as fear; pachad and yare. Both words are used to speak of a fear of the Lord. Let’s compare them.
Pachad means “a dread.” Pachad is a fearful dread that produces mistrust and fearfulness along with the accompanying side effects of anxiety, worry and stress.
And the dread [pachad—fear in KJV] of God was on all the kingdoms of the lands when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel (2 Chronicles 20:29).
These people had a good reason to fear God. If they fought Israel they could count on God being against them.
Yare, however means “reverence.” Reverence produces feelings of love, honor, respect, trust, and gratitude.
The fear [yare-reverence] of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10).
The secret of the LORD is for those who fear [yare-reverence] Him, and He will make them know His covenant commitment (Psalm 25:14).
The wise King Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs. He actually said the reverence of God is “the beginning of wisdom.”
Most Bible translations translate yare as fear in each of the thirteen times it appears in Old Testament Scripture. Why? People were taught for centuries that we are to have a dreadful fear of God. Many conversions happened because God was presented as one to be feared.
How often have we heard people say, “I’m going to put the fear of God in you” as a preface to administrating judgement? Parents have been known to use this phrase to justify their harsh approach toward correction. This is not a Biblical phrase of concept and we should eliminate it from usage.
Let’s look at our beginnings. Our first parents, Adam and Eve’s contact with God in the Garden of Eden did not produce any consciousness of fear or shame (see Genesis 2:25).
Their reverent trust in God and each other produced only love and respect. When they traded God’s guidance for a deception, it changed their perception. A dreadful fear replaced reverent trust. This distorted perception caused them to hide from God’s presence.
They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the Garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God… Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of You in the Garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself” (Genesis 3:8-10).
God did not change, but outside of God’s guiding fellowship, Adam and Eve did. They began to think of God as an adversary, feeling “He will hurt us.” Dreadful fear clouded their ability to see God clearly, and they shrank from His coming presence.
The world has always recognized fear as a great motivator. Over the centuries many have used the fear of God and hell-fire to keep people submissive. Terrorists are masters at using fear to subjugate people to their demands.
God, however, proclaimed through Jesus Christ that He forgives us and wants His love, not fear, to be our guiding influence. God’s loving forgiveness demonstrates that He prefers us to respond out of a grateful heart rather than a fearful heart.
God is only Lord and Master of the willing, not of the fearful. Some of us may have come to God because of a fear of eternity, but we want to replace any such fear with a loving reverent trust of our heavenly Father.
Our release from an existing fear can come little by little, bit by bit, or in phenomenal leaps and bounds. The stronger our reverent trust and confidence in God becomes, the less we will fear all other factors.
Joseph’s testimony captures the overriding effect that reverent trust in God can have on any ill that may come our way.
But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result” (Genesis 50:19-20).
A mature, reverent trust in our heavenly Father will have a positive effect on how we respond to daily situations, to circumstances, to challenges, to trials, and to each other. A strong reverential trust and confidence in God is what keeps any of us from falling under fearful worry, stress, and anxiety.
Does fear have any hold on us? How fully do we trust God’s ability to bring good out of our experiences? As offspring of God, we have a deep-seated need to rely on our heavenly Father as our protector and provider.
The following Scriptures can encourage our confident trust in God and help us turn away from fearfulness:
For He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I shall not be afraid. What shall man do to me?” …Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes, and forever (Hebrews 13:5-7).
When I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee. In God, whose Word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? (Psalm 56:3-4)
I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together. I sought the LORD and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears (Psalm 34:1-4).
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God…What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? (Romans 8:28, 31).
“Thus says the LORD who made you and formed you from the womb, who will help you, ‘Do not fear…Do not tremble and do not be afraid; have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are my witnesses. Is there any God besides Me?’” (Isaiah 44:1-2, 8).
Keep sound wisdom and discretion…Then you will walk in your way securely, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden fear, nor the onslaught of the wicked when it comes; for the LORD will be your confidence (Proverbs 3:21, 23-26).
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).
Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the Kingdom (Luke 12:32).
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear… and the one who fears is not perfected in love (1 John 4:18).
Such activity will increase and solidify in us a reverent trust in God. This kind of knowledge of the Holy One is understanding and the beginning of wisdom. As we allow God to govern, rule, and reign in our lives, we experience the kingdom of God.
Also read: Matthew 6:25-34 and Psalm 19:7-10, 14
8. Way of Forgiving Commissions Us
(All Scripture quotes are from the NASB version)
Irving Berlin once recounted an insightful event in his life:
“One day I hopped into a taxi and we took off for the airport. We were driving in the right lane when suddenly a black car pulled out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, skidded, and missed the other car by inches! The driver of the other car whipped his head around and started yelling at us. My driver just smiled and waved at the guy. My driver was really friendly.
“So I asked, ‘Why did you do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!’
“This is when my taxi driver taught me what I now call, ‘The Law of the Garbage Truck.’ He explained that many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it and sometimes they’ll dump it on you!”
We do not want to take it personally when people dump on us. We want to just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. We don’t want to accept their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the streets.
People walking in the ways of God in the culture of Christ don’t let garbage trucks ruin their day. We are learning to love and routinely forgive even the people that tend to dump on us. We pray much for them. But we prefer to have garbage-free days!
As we are lifted into the fellowship of God’s presence in the culture of Christ and respond to the influence of the Prince of Peace, we are better equipped to interact with Him and with each other. Our interaction helps us grow and mature so we can more fully reflect and resemble His heart. As we learn to forgive others like God forgives, we, like God, invite people to repent and enter this way of life.
God lovingly births us into life to reflect and resemble His heart’s character, attitude and personality (CAP). As a great Father, God readily forgives our imperfect growth process. We must, however, be repentant people who seek to change in order to receive the full benefits of His forgiving and enabling grace.
Throughout history, repentant attitudes were displayed by the lowering of posture. The most elementary involved laying prostrate on the ground or floor. A lesser degree involved dropping to the knees. The more sophisticated method was just to bow the head to indicate submission.
A repentant posture is supported by an attitude that is submissive and open to change. A repentant attitude is the opposite of a prideful one. A prideful attitude maintains a stance to indicate one is above submissive repentance and unwilling to adjust or change.
We trust you’ve enjoyed the preview for this chapter. We hope you’ll purchase a copy of the book and join us on this exciting faith journey. The Christ Culture is available from this website or Amazon.com