Guarding Your Heart: Fear
Fear has many names. You can call it insecurity, anxiety, worry, angst or apprehension, but its effect remains the same. Scientists tell us that “to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” and this same principal finds its way into our spiritual lives as well: for every ounce of fear you accommodate in your heart there can be found that much less room for courage and boldness. Jason Gray puts it well in his song, No Thief Like Fear:
“Fear will take the best of us
Then come back for the rest of us
Its raging hunger never satisfied
It’s closer than a brother
And more jealous than a lover
It holds you while it swallows you alive
Let down your guard
And it will steal your heart”*
Those last two lines say it all. Fear gives you a thousand opportunities every day to entertain it: the evening news reports rioting in the Middle East; the “experts” predict a hike in gas prices and – do you hear that? – it sounds like the car is making that funny noise again! No matter how hard you try not to care, you do, and fear seems like your only logical reaction to the unknown. But this kind of fear isn’t logical! In Matthew 6:27-29, during His famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus posed this question to His audience: “Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” We seem to grasp the fact that worrying about our height will never make us taller, but that the future is just as much beyond our control is a lesson many of us have yet to learn.
“Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh.
For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.”
Fear is essentially the enemy of faith, which is why I believe the devil has looked for ways of imparting it to the hearts of believers since the beginning of time. With Eve, he caused her to fear God was holding out on her and then tricked her into eating forbidden fruit. With David, he caused him to fear the consequences of his own actions and then to believe murder was the only solution. Why did Peter deny Christ? Why did Israel cower before Goliath for 40 days before a young boy stood before him in the name of the Lord with five stones and a sling? Why did only one disciple go out to meet Jesus on the raging sea? Why did the Pharisees crucify the Messiah they’d so long been waiting for? Fear. Fear of persecution, fear of defeat, and fear of shame.
Not only is fear the enemy of your faith, but it’s the enemy of your soul, your relationships, and your very salvation. This is why we must guard our hearts against it. May we all learn to trust God with our tomorrows and be confident in the promise that “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). You’ll still go through the same trials as before, but will be able to stand and say with David, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me” (Psalm 23:4).