Fear is a powerful motivator. Fear can be a positive force in our life. It can help keep us safe. When we are afraid, we tend to act cautiously and that can be a very good thing. There are certain areas of our life that a healthy dose of fear can be useful. Most of us won’t drive 120 mph hour on back roads because we fear the consequences of that. We know that we might get pulled over by the police or that we might endanger lives. That is a healthy type of fear that motives us toward positive behaviors.
There is also an unhealthy type of fear that motivates us as well. This type of fear keeps us comfortable and stuck. It keeps us from taking healthy faith-filled risks. When this fear takes over, we are motivated to keep things comfortable and exactly as they are. It keeps us from swimming out into the deep waters of faith. This fear keeps us from sharing our faith because we are afraid of the consequences. It keeps us from sacrificial giving because we are afraid that we might not have enough for ourselves. It keeps us from doing the things that we know God has commanded us to do.
When we allow this kind of fear to dominate our lives, we find that we are living against the grain of the life that God has laid out for us because we are afraid. Our fear isn’t a good excuse for not doing what we know we are supposed to do based on God’s commands.
So then, how do we overcome our fears that keep us from living a life of faithfulness? Here are some suggestions to help.
- Identify and own your fears and idols: This can be tough. It requires honest self-reflection and being attentive to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. We need to make sure we know what scares us, why it scares, and what idols we have that feed those fears. If aren’t honest in this process, we will have a difficult time overcoming those fears. Take time for honest self-reflection and allow God to show us our idols that keep us fearful. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” – Psalm 139:23
- Train yourself to think differently: We are told by Paul in Romans 12:2 to be “transformed by the renewing of our mind”. In order to help overcome our fears about faithfully following Jesus, we must change how we think. We need to see the world as God does. We need to see our lives as God does. We need to see others as God does. We must pray every day for the Holy Spirit to be at work in us to help us act and think as Jesus, to transform us by helping us to think differently.
- Love drives out fear: It is important to identify our idols and our fears. We need to renew our mind and change how we think. But, the key ingredient to overcoming fear is to be motivated by love. In 1 John 4:18, we learn “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” We need to remember that our love for God and for others is rooted in the fact that God first loved us (1 John 4:19). We must ask the Holy Spirit to remind us of God’s love for us and for others. We must also actively and intentionally choose to make loving decisions towards God and others. We must act in love, not fear.
Questions for reflection:
- What fears hold you back from being obedient to God?
- What idols in your life might be fueling your fears?
- Are you allowing fear or love to dominate your thinking when it comes to obediently following Jesus?