Focus: Fear or faith?
2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV) For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
What does fear look like and what causes it? Some fear is easy to spot. Let’s say there is a woman who is out taking a walk by herself on a sidewalk in her own neighborhood. It’s a beautiful day. She’s enjoying the weather and exercise. As she approaches an intersection, a high hedge on her right obstructs the view around the corner. Just as she starts to make the turn, she is faced by a grisly looking large dog, who is on a leash, but starts snarling and showing his teeth. The woman is paralyzed. That’s a fear which is easy to spot.
Let’s take a look at another scenario. How about a confident middle-aged man who has been employed by the same company for 15 years. He always takes first place in sales campaigns and is the envy of every person on the payroll. The man’s income level is high, due to the number of years he’s been with the company and his success rate. Even though this man is responsible for a large portion of the company’s sales—his accounts are well established and the customers are loyal. In a tight economy, the company makes the decision to eliminate the man’s position and distribute his accounts among his lesser-paid colleagues. With such a strong track record and a generous severance package—he bravely accepts the dismissal, believing he will land another opportunity is a short time. The months wear on and the few options he’s been offered aren’t close to the level of income he’s accustomed to. He has a mortgage, a couple of kids in college, and a wife to support. When people ask how it’s going, he appears confident and optimistic—but lately he hasn’t been sleeping well and he spends a lot of time wondering.
Fear can be complicated. It can come into the lives of people who are spiritually mature, as well as the person who is young and inexperienced. Fear often occurs when we are in a test, or as a result of an experience that happened when we were in a vulnerable state. Whatever the case—fear is a choice.
When you love the Lord and want to live a righteous life, it’s hard to have to realize that you have a chronic sin problem. Sin? Yes, sin.
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When we really examine fear for what it is, we have to face the fact that fear is the absence of faith and trust in God. A great example is found in a Bible story about the disciple named Peter. Peter and the rest of the disciples had experienced a big day of ministry with Jesus as he healed many who were sick and miraculously multiplied enough food to feed five thousand people. Their faith must have skyrocketed at the sight of such things.
It was getting late and Jesus sent the disciples back to their own homes in his boat. He had some things to attend to and He wanted to have some time alone to pray. Later, the disciples are at sea and a storm is gathering. The waves are rocking the boat and the disciples are getting concerned. In the misty distance—they see Jesus coming toward them walking on the water. Peter is so impressed, he decides to get out of the boat and walk on the water to Jesus. He takes a few steps and then sees the size of the waves. As he is sinking, he calls out for Jesus to save him. Jesus reaches out and catches Peter. As they reach the boat, the wind becomes still.
When Peter got out of the boat, his faith was strong. So strong—he was able to walk on the water just like Jesus. He only started to sink when he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the stormy sea. When he saw the waves, in his mind, he chose to fear. He could have kept believing he was able to walk on the water. He had already taken several steps. But, instead, he chose to believe he couldn’t keep it up. At the moment he chose not to believe—his faith turned into fear. He could have had it either way. It was a choice he had to make himself…to have faith, or fear.
2 Timothy 1:7 gives a very direct statement. It quickly gets right down to the heart of the matter. Quite simply, it states God has not given us a spirit of fear. If God hasn’t given it to us—where does it come from? Who does it come from? You know the answer. What God offers us is the exact opposite…power, love, and a sound mind.
You might be caught up in a complicated situation that has you thinking you can’t help but fear. As though any person in your situation would have to fear. My friend, it doesn’t matter what your circumstances are. Fear is still a choice.
If someone was standing in front of you, offering ‘fear’ in one hand—and ‘power, love, and a sound mind’ in the other…which would you choose?
Declaration: I will find new strength by facing the fact that fear is the opposite of faith. In the future when I am tempted to fear, I will remember that I can choose. I will focus on having power, love, and a sound mind instead.
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