Fear…a word that is highly dreaded yet intrinsically debated all across the board, ranging from religious to secular. Generally, fear has characteristics and associations with words such as scary, terrify, horrify, distress, anxiety, panic, alarm, etc. Human instincts have two mechanisms that motivate survival: fight & flight. When a danger presents itself, one has to choose instantly how to react in order to choose life. Many scientific studies have been probing to whether or not fear based tactics, in action or communication, can influence a person to change mentally and/or physically within those moments produced by the fight or flight reactions. The fear that promotes shame, guilt, condemnation, manipulation, or control are the ones that are attributed to that normal definition of fear tactics. A common acronym for FEAR is “False Evidence Appearing Real”, and 9 times out of 10 that is a very accurate assessment, and there are many others that could play the part. Fear based tactics can provide instant desired results by the presenter, but they are ones that can be detrimental to the health and growth of an individual physically, mentally, and spiritually.
The word “fear” has been documented throughout the Bible hundreds of times. Each time fear has been recorded, there have been different meanings associated to the context of the message. Many will declare that there are two main types of fear that have meaning to humanity. The first is having a reverence of awe for something, and the second is to be terrified, or having a “spirit of fear” in which many leaders have interlaced the two. However, there is a fine silver lining and a duality to these concepts. Below illustrates a few of the many examples of the word “fear” from the Old and New Testament. (Not all are mentioned, just a few for reoccurring instances). From the Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries we have:
יָרֵא – yârê’
A primitive root; to fear; morally to revere; causatively to frighten: – affright, be (make) afraid, dread (-ful), (put in) fear (-ful, -fully, -ing). (be had in) reverence (-end), X see, terrible (act, -ness, thing).
εὐλάβεια – eulabeia
From G2126; properly caution, that is, (religiously) reverence (piety); by implication dread (concretely): – fear (-ed).
φοβέω – phobeō
From G5401; to frighten, that is, (passively) to be alarmed; by analogy to be in awe of, that is, revere: – be (+ sore) afraid, fear (exceedingly), reverence.
φόβος – phobos
From a primary φέβομαι phebomai (to be put in fear); alarm or fright: – be afraid, + exceedingly, fear, terror.
There are too many scriptures to list, but many describe what it is to fear or revere God. The questions now to ask are, aren’t we commanded to “Love God” from the two Greatest Commandments that Christ stated, and does not fear and love seem to be polar opposites? We know that love is not based in the fear of being terrified, so it seems that if we are to love God, we must respect God without being crippled by the wrong type of fear as stated in the introduction paragraph. We are to have a “godly fear” as stated in Hebrews 12:28 –
Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:[G2124].
Perhaps it isn’t the fear of God by always having to avert eyes, but it is salvation that needs to be WORKED or PERFORMED as from Philippians 4:12 –
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear[G5401] and trembling.
In a previous devotion, it was discussed that works and deeds or rather what you do, are equally as important to what you believe.
On the flip side, the second Greatest Commandment Christ stated that we should be loving each other. If we are to abide in loving each other, should we also know that our messages should not be based in fear tactics? Whether government leader, spiritual leader or preacher, family member, or friend, we were all commanded to act in love towards each other, not fear. As stated in 1 John 4:18 –
There is no fear[G5401] in love; but perfect love casteth out fear:[G5401] because fear[G5401] hath torment. He that feareth[G5399] is not made perfect in love.
We can all see how government leaders and media around the world will insight fear tactics to sway or control their citizens to think or act a specific way. It is important to realize that anything from preached sermons to simple communication with each other should be well thought out to not include fear tactics, but they should be structured with the intent of love. Overall, fear based anything will only get fear based results that will either not last, or not produce good fruits.
Challenge yourself this week by reflecting in your life to know if you are fearing God in the respected revered way, opposed to coming to God out of fear tactics. Realize that our messages and actions to each other should not be based in those fear tactics to make one feel insignificant, but they should be used to bolster each other up in our faith and continue to walk in love and light. If change is necessary for individuals to see the light, we all have to be the change we want to see. Be the light in love, not the fear in darkness.