The fear of the Lord brings a snare, but whoever puts their trust in the Lord will be safe, Proverbs 29:25
Fear is a terrible master. It traps us. It creates anxiety and keeps us up at night. It kills hope. It destroys love. When fear is a motivation, there is always a trap. Remember Abraham. His fear of others caused him to deny that Sarai was his wife (Genesis 12:12). Fear caused King Saul to compromise on what God had commanded (1 Samuel 15:19-21). Fear lead Peter to deny Jesus (Matthew 27:69-75) and to be racist toward the Gentiles (Galatians 2:11-12).
Notice the fruit of fear:
It produces distrust in God and others. It leads to many other sins. When people feel deprived of food and essentials (even toilet paper), they will do things they know are wrong. It makes us moral cowards. There is no real joy or goodness that comes from fear. It makes us weak and gives us a mind that is never at rest. Fear distorts and makes things seem worse than they are. Fear will blind us.
The contrast however, is between fear and what it can do to entangle us, and the security of one who trusts in the Lord. When you trust in God you have a conscience that understands you have done all that you can do to please him. Trust in God produces peace of mind knowing God is our protector and guide (1 John 4:18). Fear ends where faith begins:
The saying is “faith and fear demand you believe in something you cannot see.” If fear produces many opportunities for sin and entanglements, trust in God produces freedom. Trust in God enables us to conquer our fears. It makes us victorious over the weaknesses that bring fear (1 John 5:4). This not because of our strength, it is because God’s strength.
Another fruit of fear is its view of the future. Both fear and faith believe in a future that hasn’t happened yet. Fear believes in a negative future while faith believes in a positive future. If neither has happened yet, why would we go to the negative rather than the positive? God had promised the children of Israel the Promised Land. Ten of the spies, out of fear, said they were not able. Fear of the giants and the land kept them from believing they could. Their fear was over something that hadn’t even happened. On the other hand, Joshua and Caleb believed in God and the promises he had made to deliver the land to them. Remember this was still in their future. God had not yet delivered the land to them. In addition, the promise of God was in the future but because of something that had not happened, for the next forty years the children of Israel wondered until all but Joshua and Caleb died. Their fear led to unbelief, and because of something that had not happened they died without ever seeing the Promised Land.
Now that it is easy to see in them, but what about us? Fear, worry, anxiety, stress can also keep me from inheriting what God has promised. We have a future. The future will come. So why not believe in the positive results of that future instead of doubting? We do not see God. We have never seen heaven. Heaven is promised but will we let fear keep us from believing what God has promised?
Also, how often, simply because we are concerned about what someone will say about us, do we let fear of rejection from others guide our decisions? If I should stand up to them because of their language or lifestyle, will I let fear of what may happen stop me from believing in a positive outcome? There will be an outcome, why not believe in a positive result? Perhaps they will surprise you and appreciate that you said something to them.
Sometimes this affects our parenting style. We become so fearful for our children we hover over them and keep them from harm so much they do not let them engage in an activity in which they might lose or be hurt. But, faith says they may exceed, conquer, and experience positive results.
Trust in God may not prevent us from being hurt but it does help us to live above the fear. With all that is going on in our world fear is having a field day. There are so many “fear snares” in our world today. Financial markets, global disasters, climate change, violence. All around people are losing their mind because of fear. Stop. Wait. We need to get our eyes off of this world and on to God. Trust in him brings a peace of mind that is beyond understanding. Trust in God reminds us who is really in control of this world. Trust in God helps us to live above the turmoil that surrounds us, that, while everyone is losing their mind, we have the mind of Christ. Now that is confidence. Both fear and faith have risks. Fear comes dread of what could happen. Faith has the risk that we leave everything that means anything to us based on a promise in a God we have not seen. Faith takes the risk. The track record of God is much better.