What Do You Fear? Part 1

Grace For The Journey

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9Dec  According to The National Institute of Mental Health, about 12.5& of Americans have at least one phobia.  They report that “phobias are the most common mental illness among women of all ages, and they are the second most common mental illness among men older than 25.”  “Phobia” is a term that refers to a group of symptoms brought on by feared objects or situations.  People can develop phobic reactions to animals (such as snakes or spiders), activities (such as getting on an airplane), or social situations (like eating in public or simply being out in public at all).  Phobias can interfere with a person’s ability to work, socialize, and go about a daily routine.  They may focus on something as common as bacteria, or they may arise whenever a person ventures from home.

Phobias can range from the very common “acrophobia,” which is the fear of heights, “claustrophobia,” the fear of confining spaces, or the bizarre “xanthophobia,” the fear of the color yellow.  As strange as it might sound, some people actually suffer from this.

Psychologists have identified hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of phobias.  As further examples, people have been known to fear darkness (“achluophobia”), insects (“entomophobia”), riding in cars (“amaxophobia”), thunder and lightning (“astrapophoba”), moving to a new house (“tropophobia”), snow (“chionophobia”), clowns (“coulrophobia”), bicycles (“cyclophobia”), having definite plans (“teleophobia”), and some fear their relatives (“syngenesophobia”). There is even one phobia called “arachibutyrophoba,” which is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of one’s mouth.

People with these various phobias have more than just a slight aversion to the object or situation.  They experience feelings of panic, dread, or terror.  Their symptoms often include a rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, trembling, and an overwhelming desire to flee the situation.

At the core of these reactions

Is an irrational fear

That causes a debilitating response.

I certainly do not intended to make light of these conditions, because, as the saying has it, “There but for the grace of God go I.”  However, even if we do not have extreme phobias, most of us still have to deal with other fears, insecurities, and anxieties. Because of Satan’s influence on the world, fear plays a significant part in the human condition.

While we may not have difficulty breathing

Or an increased heart rate when we encounter certain situations,

Our fears and insecurities still evoke reactions within us.

Consider the fate of those that God considers to be fearful.  The Bible says in Revelation 21:8, “But the fearful, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”  This subject of fear is significant enough that God consigns the fearful to the Lake of Fire!  The word translated as “fearful,” means “timid,” and by implication, “faithless.”

To understand why fear would prohibit entrance into God’s Kingdom, first, notice the word “but” at the beginning of Revelation 21:8, which connects this thought with the one before it by way of contrast.  Verse 7 reads in part, “He who overcomes will inherit all things.”  This contrast shows that fearfulness is in opposition to overcoming – and all Christians should be well aware of how vital overcoming is to their spiritual lives.

Fear keeps a Christian from overcoming,

And as verse 7 shows,

Only those who overcome will inherit all things.

Why does fear inhibit overcoming?  Recall the phobias mentioned above.  If a man has a fear of water (hydrophobia), he will not be inclined to go to the beach or the pool.  If a woman has a fear of flying in an airplane (aviophobia), she is forever consigned to making long trips by car or train.  If an individual has a fear of public places (agoraphobia), one will never catch him or her at a crowded park, a busy mall, or any other large, social gathering.

These examples demonstrate

That fear limits us.

Since our fears, anxieties, and insecurities influence our decisions, they end up limiting our behaviors.  Just as the proper fear of God will limit sinful actions, our irrational fears will limit our actions too – but the effect will not be good.

The phobias mentioned earlier are significant because of the debilitating effects they have on a person’s ability to live his or her life.

Even more damaging to those that God has called

Are the fears that inhibit their spiritual lives.

These fears may not leave a person sweating or short of breath, but they negatively influence his or her actions just the same.

Our fears may limit our usefulness to God.

For example, if we are overly concerned about what other people think of us, we may not be inclined to reach out to others and allow God to use us.

Out of fear, we may bury our spiritual gifts.

If we are terrified of strangers, we may have a difficult time being an effective witness to those outside our comfort zones.  If we fear the opinions of others, we may let that overshadow our decisions to do the right things.

Perhaps we fear losing control of some aspect of our lives.  Maybe we fear not being provided for or not receiving what we feel we deserve.  We may fear unknown people or situations, or anything we do not understand can seem like a threat.  We may fear not receiving love or attention, or be anxious about not being accepted.

We may fear sacrificing ourselves or something else we need to give up to follow Christ completely.  Perhaps we fear giving up parts of our lives or personality to put off the “old man” (Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:8-9).  We may fear what we will find if we truly look inside and examine our own hearts.  We may fear appearing foolish or wrong.

All of these fears will inhibit our overcoming.

They all indicate that on some level we

Fear people, situations, or personal change

More than we fear God.

More significantly, if a fear becomes larger than God, in practical fact, it will replace God – and that is a form of idolatry.

Tomorrow, we will look at the biblical concept of fearing God or the fear of the Lord.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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