“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:18).
I have served in ministry work for more than 40 years. Never in my wildest imagination would I have ever thought part of my ministry duties would be the safety of my church members. That is where I find myself today. Seems the recent church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, has churches across America forming church security teams, and taking increased measures to protect those who attend church.
Of course, fear motivates these actions–fear of an active shooter, robber, or intruder inside the church building. Related to this fear, gun sales, as well as the number of background checks have surged in recent years.
We should distinguish 2 types of fear. One type of fear is warranted. Like the fear of touching a hot stove top, or fearing a nearby rattlesnake. And the Bible even admonishes us to fear the Lord (Psalm 89:7).
But a different type of fear we might call “a spirit of fear.” The first type of fear I just mentioned is normal and proper. But what happens when our fearful feeling is something more, when it is an emotion we feel simply getting into our car, leaving our house, being in a crowd, or attending a church service? Are these feelings of fear normal? The answer is a resounding no!
How, then, should we respond to the spirit of fear that someone might harm us? What should we do with these unnatural feelings of fear?
Understand That God Does Not Give Us a Spirit of Fear
2 Timothy 1:7 from the Bible (printed at the beginning of this post) states that God has not given us a spirit of fear. So, if God has not given us a spirit of fear, then someone has. Who is that person who gives us fear? That is the enemy of God, and we call him Satan. He plants thoughts of fear in our minds. Satan attempts to convince us that God can’t be trusted to protect us. All of Satan’s actions are designed to eliminate faith. Here’s the point. If a spirit of fear dominates you, that fear did not come from God. I’m speaking of God’s character here.
Know That God Is Greater Than the Spirit of Fear
You don’t have to look far to find someone who’s only too willing to inform you about all the things you should fear, whether it’s being shot in a church service, financial collapse, food shortages, killer diseases, or some sinister government secret. Always remember that God is greater than any fear that torments you. God’s presence is with us daily as we confront our fears. Nothing we might fear can overtake God, nor does it catch Him off guard.
Surrender Your Fears to God
Until you trust God fully, you will never get complete freedom from your fears. Begin by asking a simple question: “What am I afraid of?” Being attacked? Facing an intruder in your house? If something terrible happened to you, God would still be in control. He would still love you. He would still help you. He would still get you through that awful thing. He really can be trusted. So, trust Him with your fears.
So the next time a spirit of fear rears its tormenting head, you should say out loud: “God did not give me a spirit of fear. I will not be afraid. God loves me, and I will trust Him.” Believe me, these words of affirmation are hopeful.