For the Christian--I'm one--fear can be a sin, an insult to God. We are to fear God himself, because he is God and deserves our reverence; there isn't much else we should fear. Fearing people's opinions when we know we are doing what pleases God puts man's puny voice above our Maker's voice, which spoke the earth into being out of nothingness. Fearing that that the ends won't meet in a time of need (such as unemployment, which my family has experienced), while very natural, may be a sign of doubting God's true care. Fearing loneliness may be to forget how deep and wide and high and broad his love is. These are to name a few fears I have struggled with or been tempted to.
And fear is not only an internal problem. It affects how we act. Especially, it can cripple our efforts to serve God, if we're afraid of the possible consequences to ourselves, our reputations, or our comfort.
You've probably heard the saying that courage is not to be unafraid, but to do what you know is right or must be done in spite of fear. This is true--but if we try to stand against fear by drawing on our own mental or emotional reserves it will wear us out and break us down. In Proverbs, "hope deferred makes the heart sick" (13:12a), "envy rots the bones" (14:30b), and "anxiety weighs down the heart" (12:25a). Fear is destructive. I would suggest that human experience consistently bears this out.
If we are not enough in ourselves, what are we to stand on when we're afraid? David, who rose from sheep-tending to the kingship of ancient Israel through a journey of war, threats of assassination, and betrayal, knew a thing or two about fear. He said, "The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1) The stronghold of my life! God had work for David to do (and the work God gives is always for the ultimate good of the worker, too), and he saw to it that David had the chance to do that work, by faithfully protecting his life and defeating his enemies. God is MORE THAN ENOUGH for ALL the problems, fears, doubts, and struggles in our lives. They should never hold us back when we are doing the work he gave us!
Isaiah the prophet knew this too, and God gave him a word of encouragement for the Jewish exiles who were returning from Babylon to a Jerusalem that was in ruins and surrounded by hostile peoples.
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
you descendants of Abraham my friend,
I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, 'You are my servant;'
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:8-9)
10 Reasons the Servant of God Should Not Fear
2. You take part in God's covenant of salvation.
3. God has called you to specific work for his good purposes.
4. God is your loving Master.
5. God never goes back on his decision to choose YOU.
6. God is with you where you are.
7. He is not just God, but YOUR God, and will be faithful to you.
8. You have God's strength and his help.
9. God will hold you up...
10. ...With righteousness and justice to you.
Take comfort, servants of the Lord! I want to end with the words of Nehemiah:
"The joy of the Lord is your strength."
Ask God to be your security, and he'll never let you down!