WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?
By Jeremy Coe
No matter how tough you talk, every man is afraid of something. So what are you afraid of? Are you afraid of the right things?
[endif]--From childhood, most people have certain things that cause them to be afraid. Some of the most common fears are being in the dark, strangers, snakes, sharks, spiders, heights, or public speaking. Other people are afraid of romantic rejection, being ridiculed in public, tornadoes, tight spaces, dying, or our loved ones dying.
Strangely enough, out of all those fears, according to a university survey conducted in 2015, the No. 1 fear in the U.S. was corrupt government officials, followed by cyber-terrorism! Weird …
Let’s face it … no matter how tough you talk, every man is afraid of something. So my question for you is - what are you afraid of? Are you afraid of the right things?
In Daniel 4, the powerful King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, had a very disturbing dream. He didn’t understand and called for all of his “wise men,” magicians and astrologers to interpret the dream. None of them knew what it meant.
Finally, Daniel, the godly Jew, was brought in to the King. When Nebuchadnezzar told Daniel the dream, Daniel was able (with God’s help) to interpret the dream. Daniel told the King that the dream meant that, because of his great pride, he was going to lose his mind and live like an animal in the wild for seven years. Then Daniel warned him, “‘King Nebuchadnezzar, please accept my advice. Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past and be merciful to the poor. Perhaps then you will continue to prosper.’” Daniel 4:27 (NLT)
Unfortunately, the King did not heed the warning that God had given him through his dream. About a year later, the King was walking on the roof of his palace and began boasting about his riches and power.
God immediately spoke to Nebuchadnezzar from heaven and pronounced judgment on him. From that moment, the King went “loco in the coco” for 7 years.
The King was more afraid of losing his earthly power and position than he was afraid of disobeying God. He was afraid of the wrong thing! And his failure to obey led to serious consequences for him, his family, and his kingdom. He nearly lost his Kingdom – which God had allowed him to have – due to his foolish pride.
We all still struggle sometimes with being afraid of the wrong things. We are so busy worrying about snakes and spiders and dying that we never think to be afraid of the God of the Universe. Some people are so afraid of what others will think about them that they either won’t do what they know they should do – like choose to obey God – or they will do things they know they should NOT do.
Jesus preached about this same dilemma:
Luke 12:1 Meanwhile, the crowds grew until thousands were milling about and stepping on each other. Jesus turned first to his disciples and warned them, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees—their hypocrisy. 2 The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. 3 Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear!
At this point, Jesus called them out for fearing the wrong things …
4 “Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. 5 But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear. 6 “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. 7 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
The word “afraid” that Jesus used in this passage means fear, dread, or reverence.
The believer's fear should be reverence of God. Hebrews 12:28-29 is a good description of this: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ’God is a consuming fire.’ Sometimes people revere the respect of others, or fear the rejection of others, so much that they forget that there is only One who is worthy of reverence.
So what are you afraid of? Are you afraid of the right thing?
Deuteronomy 10:12, 20-21 records, “And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Fear the LORD your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. He is your praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.”
The fear of God for Christians should be much more than just “respecting” Him. While respect is definitely included in the concept of fearing God, there is more to it than that. A biblical fear of God, for the believer, includes understanding how much God hates sin and fearing His judgment on sin—even in the life of a believer.
Heb 12:5-11 describes God’s discipline of the believer. While it is done in love, it is still a fearful thing. As children, the fear of discipline from our parents prevents bad behavior.
This should also be true in our relationship with God. We should fear His discipline, and therefore seek to live our lives in such a way that pleases Him.
The truth is, if you fear Him, there’s no need to fear anything else.
God promised that: nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39), and that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
So how should fear of God affect us? It should change US - our words, our actions, and our ways of thinking. “All who fear the Lord will hate evil. Therefore, I hate pride and arrogance, corruption and perverse speech.” Proverbs 8:13 Someone who says they are a believer in Christ, and truly fears God, will not want to continue living the same way they did before.
Fearing God means having such a reverence for Him that it has a great impact on the way we live our lives. The fear of God is respecting Him, obeying Him, submitting to His discipline, and worshipping Him in awe.
Prov 1:7 declares, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.”
In other words … Until you fear God, you don’t really know anything.