"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." 1 John 4:18
I read this verse this morning, and I felt a stirring in my heart. Fear. Man, is fear a tough thing to overcome! You know, as time has gone on, I've lost a lot of my fears that I had. I used to be afraid that I would look foolish or goof up when worshiping at church. Heh, I think anyone who's been to church with me in the last year would see that I am definitely over that fear. I've also overcome the fear that I had for the longest time regarding blogging. I used to be afraid that I would offend people with the things I said here. I am most definitely over that fear, and blog purely as the Spirit inspires me every single morning.
But you know, this weekend as I listened to testimony after testimony of God's goodness, I realize that I still have a fear or two, and I would like them to be gone. This verse above? Tells me straight out that the fears that I have are not from God- nor are they part of a fear of God. They're an irrational fear of man- a fear that the devil likes to point out from time to time- and I have no doubt that it's to try and and dissuade me from doing or saying something awesome for God. I'll be talking to God about those- and I hope that the opportunities will come up where I can just get rid of those fears and prove they are gone by stepping out in faith and telling fear to be gone.
But then I got thinking about the fear of the Lord, and maybe that fear itself could help me or someone else overcome the other fears that are holding us back. The verse above hints at that too- it says fear has to do with punishment. So let's think about this for a minute. See, one of the fears that I deal with is what people will think of me. I know it doesn't really matter- but the thing is, it's not so much what people I know think of me- its more the strangers- which probably doesn't make sense at all. If I walk up to a random stranger at a grocery store and ask to pray for their affliction- their response, and the response of those of us around us is the thing I fear. And why is that? If fear is the fear of punishment- what am I really afraid of? Am I afraid they'll say no or laugh at me? I'll never see them again- what does it really matter?
Maybe instead I should think on that idea that fear is the fear of punishment. Think along the lines of a child who is disobedient to their father. Now that is a fear of punishment- a child who follows the rules because they are afraid of being punished.
"But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love," Psalm 33:18
And it appears that is the healthy kind of fear that we are supposed to have. A fear of God- that fear of really wanting to do what is right and good because we want approval in God's eyes. God's eyes are the only eyes that really and truly matter. And I think... I think if we keep our eyes on God's eyes instead of mans eyes, we will be surprised at the results.
I've been reading a lot of history lately- and much of it has been church history. I was reading some accounts during the Spanish Inquisition and you know, all the stories I read of people being burned at the stake for speaking heresy all had something in common. Not one person went to the stake or the chopping block sobbing and pleading for their lives. Every single one of them kept their focus on God and lost their lives without a single regret. There are even stories of men who complained that the fire being lit under them wasn't hot enough... these people were so focused on God and doing what was right that the punishment from man didn't even affect them. They all knew that they had eternal rewards waiting for them- and that gave them the courage and the strength to stand for what they knew was right and good and of God.
Healthy fear is a good thing- the fear of the Lord. The fear of man can do nothing but hold us back from being pleasing in the eyes of God. I know which side of fear I want to be on.
"I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears." Psalm 34:4