I’ve been thinking about how our Digging Deep study, Authority, is not for the fearful. I have already been called on to do some major self-examination and ready myself for submission in important ways that I have been tempted to ignore. Recently while speaking in the state of Missouri, I met Lillian Howard. Lilly is still in high school, but she has her own personal arsenal of written defensive missiles against our great spiritual enemy. Listen to her words (and the Lord’s) about the danger of our own fear, specifically about how our fears can make us ashamed of our Lord. They are convicting. Here’s Lillian:
In Revelation 21:8, God gives us one of several lists telling of those who will not enter Heaven. It has such people as the unbelievers, murderers, and liars. But it is the first one that really catches my attention. Fearful.
In this verse, fearful means timid or cowardly. Cowardice is succumbing to fear. Cowards will be kept out of Heaven. But why? Obviously because God said so, but why did he say so? I think we understand why most of these others are wrong. If you don’t believe, you can’t even begin to do anything else God commands us. Murder is the unlawful taking of a life, made in the image of God. And lying breaks down trust and our influence. But what does cowardice do that makes it so serious?
First, succumbing to fear can make us ashamed.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord… 2 Timothy 1:7-8
For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory… Luke 9:26
But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in Heaven. Matthew 10:33
Clearly, being ashamed of the one who died for us is a serious matter, as is being ashamed of his gospel. It is, after all, the power that saves us, Romans 1:16.
Second, fear can keep us from doing what we know is right. Remember Esther? She had the chance to save her entire race from annihilation. But she was scared. It could cost her her life. In a nutshell, Mordecai told her, opportunity + ability = obligation. It’s not as though she didn’t have a choice. But cowardice would have cost her and her family immensely, Esther 4:14.
We are given a similar command in James 4:17-
Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
Next time: What Can We Do about Fear?