One of those sins that Christians tend to address as "minor," "little," and "unimportant," fear is often deemed unnecessary to address. We don't see it as a big deal, so we just ignore it, hoping it’ll go away. Unfortunately, though, as time goes on, fear not only doesn’t disappear – it actually grows. Before too long, the “little” sin is now the BIG sin that has begun to push us around and is grasping for control over every part of our lives.
I think part of the struggle we have to take fear seriously starts with the fact that fear in and of itself may not be a problem. Fear is a God-given emotion. The danger is found in what we’re fearing and how we respond to that fear.
Fear is good and healthy in many ways because it protects us - fear keeps us from driving extremely fast, from petting a lion, or playing with fire. Fear alerts us to dangers - not only physical, but even in human relationships.
Fear is also an important part of our relationship with God. Our fear of God leads to respect, which leads to love. Our fear and respect and love all work together to motivate us toward obedience.
This fear begins with our salvation when we learn of the wrath of God that we deserve for our sin against Him, which then motivates us to surrender to Him, repent of our sin, and give Him our lives. And then, when He accepts us, changes us, and remakes us, we learn just how much He loves us; this love causes us to continue the pattern of forsaking sin and choosing surrender in obedience. It helps us to fear the right things (sin, disobedience, and the things God forbids) and embrace the right things (obedience, faithfulness, and surrender).
Healthy fear will always come back to fear of the Lord. Psalm 33:18 says, "...the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love." When we fear God, everything else that we’re tempted to fear can lose its power, because our focus is on God’s power, control, and love for us. With God on our side, what have we to fear?
Fear becomes unhealthy (and ultimately, sin) when we do not fear what God says we should fear, or when we fear things God says we should not fear. When we don’t have proper fear of God, we don’t fear the consequences of our sin; therefore, we begin to choose sin.
I think that the majority of the sin that we commit could be traced back to a wrong fear of God – fear that He’ll forget us, that He won’t do what He promised. Our wrong fear causes us to feel justified in taking things for ourselves rather than waiting on God. This shows our small view of God and our magnified view of ourselves. We don’t fear God enough. We don’t see Him for who He is. And the result is that we fail to see ourselves for who we are, and we certainly don’t see sin for what it is – deadly.
We also can be guilty of unhealthy fear and a wrong focus when we fail to do something God has commanded us to because we’re afraid of failure, what others will think, or simply going outside of our comfort zone. While the first type of wrong fear results in sin of commission (things you shouldn’t do that you do), this type of wrong fear leads to sins of omission (things you should do that you don’t).
When God commands you to do something, it's very common to be afraid at first. It's unknown, it's uncomfortable. The question we always face when God tells us to something is: "Will I let my fear dictate how I respond to God's commands?"
Could it be that God has been prompting you to share your testimony with a coworker?
Or maybe He’s been pushing you to add more to your tithe, but you’ve been scared to trust Him with your finances.
It could even be that He’s been speaking to you about reconciling a broken relationship, but you’ve been afraid of the cost – having to eat the hurt, humble yourself, and forgive.
What we often fail to realize is that when we don’t do the things God has told us, we’re choosing fear over God. Actually, let me take that even further – when we fail to obey God, we are choosing us over God.
And ultimately, this fear reveals that we’re walking by sight, not by faith.
Faith always leads to obedience.
And whichever one we choose reinforces itself and begins to create a pattern in our lives. We are always building up or tearing down. Each choice we make has far more reach in our hearts that we tend to realize, which is why we must not ignore fear and just hope it’ll go away. Rather, we must surrender it to God, confess our sin, and ask Him for the grace to do the right thing and act on faith instead of fear.
2 Corinthians 9:8 promises that "God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."
Do you have the faith?
Will you choose to fear God more than your circumstances?
Will you choose to fear God more than your friends and family?
Will you choose to fear God more than the unknown?
Fear God. Take a step. He will meet you there.
In a word: passionate.