There's an exceptional difference between living with fear versus living fearfully.
To live with fear means to live with fright, terror, trepidation, and timidity. In today's world, it's easy to get scared and afraid, but there are over 100 verses in the Bible that tell us to act otherwise. Some of my favorites are:
Deuteronomy 31:6, "Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you."
Psalm 27:1, "The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?"
Psalm 56:4, "In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?"
Isaiah 41:10, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
Those are four of several verses that encourage finding strength and courage in trusting God. In fact, the direct antonyms of "fear" are courage, security, and calmness. Courage, security, and calmness can all be signs of living fearfully. To live fearfully has two definitions depending on who you are. For the unbeliever, to live fearfully of God means to fear His wrath, His judgement, and the end of time. These people, whom I refer to as, "aware, yet unbelievers" (Aware of who God is, yet don't believe in Him or having a personal relationship with Him), fear eternal life in Hell; they fear dying and they fear that they are not good enough for God. Life isn't about being "good enough" for God, it's about realizing He is greater than anything you could ever ask for or need because He is all that you need...but this is a topic for another day. The second definition of living fearful of God is for the believers. To "fear God" sounds negative because society has turned fear into a negativity or threatening emotion, yet it is exactly the opposite for those who believe. The fear of the Lord is spelt out clearly in Psalms, and has several definitions...the fear of the Lord is...
- Reverential (Respectful) Joy - Psalm 2:11, "Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling."
- To Be Open to God's Instruction - Psalm 25:12, "Who, then, is the man that fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him."
- To Experience Hope/God's Unfailing Love - Psalm 33:18, "But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,"
- To Experience God's Providence - Psalm 34:9, "Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing."
- To Be a Beacon of Hope for Others - Psalm 40:3, "He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD."
- To Experience an Undivided Heart - Psalm 86:11, "Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name."
- To Experience God's Glory - Psalm 102:15, "The nations will fear the name of the LORD, all the kings of the earth will revere your glory."
- To Experience God's Compassion - Psalm 103:13, "As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him."
- To Experience God's Love/Righteousness - Psalm 103:17, "But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children."
- To Experience God's Wisdom/Understanding - Psalm 111:10, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise."
- To Trust God - Psalm 115:11, "You who fear him, trust in the LORD— he is their help and shield."
- The Praise of the Lord - Psalm 135:20, "...praise the LORD; you who fear him, praise the LORD."
We live in a world where fear dominates the hearts of millions, if not billions. There are around 530 phobias that are documented today, and there are without a doubt, thousands of documented fears. Fears of failure, of growing old, of dying, of losing someone, of snakes, of spiders, of power, of new surroundings, of other people, and much more...
Many of these fears, if not all, shouldn't exist today. If you've been following the news lately, you've probably heard of the shooting at a Colorado movie theater's premiere opener of The Dark Night Rises. This mass-murder situation has stirred fear in the hearts of many American civilians, including fears of death, losing a loved one, and now even being in public places due to this tragedy occurring in such a family-friendly public venue. Movie theaters are meant to be enjoyed -- for kids, for friends, for boyfriends/girlfriends, for husbands/wives, and for grandparents -- not feared because of what one man has done. I have a bit of anger and sadness stirred up inside me at the same time on this recent tragedy that has climbed to the top of the list for highest civilian casualty total (due to another civilian's murder-attempt) in America. First, I pray for the families and friends of those impacted by this event. Secondly, I pray for America as a country...this is another story of a mentally-ill civilian taking the lives of other civilians in a "free" country, yet again showing that we live in an imperfect world where evil does in fact exist.
The morning after the attack, I was driving with my girlfriend in the Memorial area in Houston when we came across an intriguing sign. We passed Old Towne Kolaches where the sign read, "Blessed is the country whose God is the Lord." This made me think how America has walked away from its original Christian values -- attempting to ban "In God We Trust" and "One God" from the American motto and Pledge of Allegiance. One thing that many people don't discuss today is how America has also changed from being a God-fearing nation who fears the Lord to a nation that lives daily in fear. Our society and our culture today screams fear, discouragement, breakdowns, depression, addictions, and every thing besides being a God-fearing society. We are encouraged by the apostle Paul in Romans 12:1-2 on how we are supposed to be living, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will."
The American way of life -- crude music, inappropriate movies, online dating sites, sex-slavery, and more -- has become a sick and twisted (and most importantly, ungodly) pattern for generations to come to follow. Music artists like Kanye West, Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Lil Wayne, and Nicki Minaj all encourage ungodly paths to follow in their music; and sadly, all of these artists are constantly on top of the charts in America and other parts of the world. There are countless movies that are too long to list that teach immoral and negative thoughts/actions, online-dating has led to disastrous results, and sex-slavery is a GROWING problem in America that has existed for more than one generation. Houston is in fact the #2 sex-slavery area in the world; right in our backyard here in Houston, Texas, one of the greatest problems in the world is constantly growing. My question is, when will someone realize that God is in control of mankind? When will someone take a stand for what's right rather than what's cool or what feels best? When will someone say, "I will" when God calls for people to be godly leaders in this country? When will someone stop living in fear and start living with the fear of the Lord?
2 Timothy 4:7, "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline."