"This is what the Lord says, ‘Do not be afraid of what you have heard...'" Isaiah 19:6
Fear is a bad motivator—always has been. We are all so vulnerable in the face of what we hear. From the time Eve unwittingly decided to change all of our destinies because of the fear she might not be getting all she needed out of the Garden to the Revelation of St. John where the fear of Babylon's economic collapse drives everything, the Bible is replete with examples of bad decisions made out of fear.
Isn't it interesting that Jesus used the phrase "you have heard it said" in the Beatitudes to describe innate fears compensated for by human traditions? For example, when Jesus declared, "You have heard it said, ‘An eye for an eye,'" it seems to me he was describing the fear that if we don't take our own vengeance for things people have done to us justice might never prevail. And we can't have that. So, we launch into our defense just in case God doesn't come through. And we play right into the hands of hell.
Jesus follows every one of those fearful statements with "But I say to you..." He has an entirely different point of view when it comes to our fears. The question is who and what are we going to believe? We're going to hear things every week of our lives that contradict what He is saying... which demands a choice.
Maybe that's why the Bible tells us over 200 times not to be afraid. We just don't get it. We need a fresh reminder at least every 36 hours. No matter how many times God reveals his glory and power we tend to treat him as if he is only as good as his latest miracle. We gravitate toward our insecurities instead of his majesty. We develop our backup plans as our own human hedge fund.
At the depth of my battle with cancer I stood at death's door with one foot over the portal; I lost 45 pounds in 30 days (what a diet)! And I can tell you unequivocally that there is nothing to be afraid of! If death has no fearful power over us who believe why should we be led astray by the whispers of things said around us?
Prayer Focus: Open up to the Holy Spirit today and let him fill you right now with the love of God. Ask for it. His love is the antidote to the poison of fear. His love always wins in the end. Then, stand in front of your fears and put your fist in their face... today! Call the bluff of those things you have heard. You will win because the Lord is with you and in you! No fear!
Ron Pinkston is supervisor of the Central Pacific District of Foursquare Churches.