Fear is essentially equal to anxiety. The Bible tells us over and over to fear not, as it also tells us to be anxious for nothing. These statements in scripture are always in the imperative. While I admit that is a bit of an inference, it would seem that God does not have much room in his spiritual economy for worry. Yet day in and day out, I talk with people about anxiety. We discuss it’s affect on day-to-day life, and ways to overcome it. We use medications, therapy, and other techniques to alleviate anxiety. But if we are told not to fear, why is it such a struggle to overcome? Like many things, anxiety run amok, is like other parts of creation that have been perverted.
Anxiety, or fear, serve a purpose. If we weren’t afraid of the electricity being turned off, we would never pay the electricity bill. We would sit blissfully, undismayed, in our dark homes. Healthy worry, spurs us to action. It makes us go to work, it causes us to pay our bills, it provokes us to look to the future.
I submit that this is not worry, but prudence. Prudence perverted by sin, or the curse, just transforms to fear. So what is the cure for fear? Scripture tells us that perfect love casts out all fear. We are told to cast our cares upon him, which is another imperative. It gives us positive guidance as to what to do for anxiety, rather than useless admonishment to avoid being worried.
In short, the remedy for fear is love. Scripture tells us that God is love. Scripture also tells us the many attributes of love and admonishes us to love one another as well as to love God.
In our lives, anxiety and fear cause many difficulties. The following is a juxtaposition of the negative consequences of fear and the overcoming power of love.
Fear pushes, love draws
Fear always wants us to move faster. If you have ever stayed up late or had a sick day home from work, and watched television, you have experienced this. All of the daytime television commercials as well as the late night ones, are for products that you definitely do not need. Often times these commercials will have a pitch man speaking loudly through the television extolling the virtues of a completely useless item. At the bottom of the screen there is a timer, as well as a counter. The timer will be countjng down as will the counter. The pitch man will accentuate this from time to time stating, “there’s only 17 minutes left!” or “we only have 22 Bluetooth toilet paper dispensers left in stock!” These statements and graphics on the television are implements of fear.
What advertisers know is that fear leads to bad decisions. A decision made in fear, is a decision that is rushed. The fear of losing an opportunity is enough to cause a poor decision. Trust me, this works. If this sales technique was in effective, it would have died out along time ago. However, those in marketing have tapped into something deep in our soul and in our psyche. They have understood that fearful decisions are not well thought out.
Love does not push. Love draws us with true value. God does not push us towards him, but draws us through his goodness. Scripture tells us that no one comes to salvation except those who were drawn by the Spirit.
Fear pressures, love waits
“If you love me, you’ll …” just fill in the blank here. Fear uses the pressure of loss to push for the unhealthy gain of right now. How many people have rushed into physical intimacy under this guise? I’ve seen marriages end for the pressures lie of “true love”. Anything that rushes into something and leaves a wake of destruction behind is not love.
Love will be there. Love does not have a deadline, but anticipates and welcomes the future.
Fear assumes the worst, love assumes the best
Have you ever been in a situation, where the outcome is uncertain? How often did you assume the worst thing would happen? This may seem silly, however, when you were calling that loved one on their cell phone, and they don’t answer, even after three or four phone calls, do you begin to assume that they are in a ditch somewhere and conscious? Or maybe even as simple as sending a text to someone who does not reply right away, is your assumption that they are rolling their eyes at you, or laughing at you to all their other “real friends”?
Fear causes us to think the worst. It makes us feel worse about ourselves and assume that others feel the same. Fear wants us to drive away those who could possibly hurt us, where as love wants to draw others close to us.
Assuming the best about others and about situations is not foolishness. Fear would have us believe “nice guys get walked on”. Love would tell us that every person is an image bearer of God. Believing the best about others and bearing their weaknesses, does not mean that you permit them to exploit you, but permits you to love them and to be loved.
Fear intimidates, love empowers
All too often, when I am working with a woman in a physically or emotionally abusive relationship, the prime driver behind her maintaining the relationship is fear. Intimidation is an incredibly powerful tool of fear. Intimidation takes many forms, including physical intimidation or devaluing a person’s own strength in order to make them feel powerless. Fear requires the other person to lose their power in order to gain power itself. Love does not require the loss of power in order to overcome. In fact the opposite is true. Love seeks to empower the other in order to achieve the impossible.
Fear lies, love tells the truth
“You’re fat” “You’re stupid” “You can’t” “You’ll never get married” “You’ll always screw up”.
Do any of these sound familiar? Probably, because they’re nothing new. Fear lies, because the truth will set you free, and fear seeks to imprison. Think about it, if you believe a lie, you’ll never move into complete freedom.
In a classic and ill fated psychology experiment, a group of students were told to pretend they were either prisoners or guards. Even though it was completely fabricated, the students identified as prisoners acted the part, so much so that the experiment was terminated ahead of schedule. The “prisoners” gave up all their rights to the guards, and suffered mental breakdowns, even though no doors were locked and they were free to leave whenever they chose.
Love delights in the truth. The truth sets us free, and delights in seeing us move into the fullness of who we are.
Fear steals, love gives
Someone who’s dreamed of seeing the great pyramids never will, if they are afraid to travel. Fear steals joy. People afraid of being hurt, have the opportunity to love stolen from them by fear. Those afraid of failure have success snatched away; and those afraid to lose have profit stolen from their hands.
Love gives. Love gives confidence, opportunity and resource. Love wants what’s best and doesn’t covet what you have.
Fear kills, love brings life
I was afraid to fail. I was afraid to dream. I was afraid to send off an application to med school. Fear wanted to kill my dream of helping others.
Love brought life to what was impossible. Love resurrected confidence to try. If a dream is being euthanized, fear is usually the culprit, not love.
When scripture tells us not to fear, it’s not to criticize, but instead to show a better way. Be prudent always, but cast all your cares on him, because he cares for you.