It seems that we are living in a culture where fear gets lots of attention. For example, turn on the TV and evaluate a typical thirty-minute news program. Note the number of stories where fear is subtly, or not so subtly, the main character in the story.
Fear is amped up in regard to safety & security, marriage & family, and faith & finances. The list of fear-fueled “don’ts” seems to get longer and longer every day. Don’t do this… Don’t do that… Watch out for… Be afraid of …
I recently asked friends; “what do you fear?” Their responses included, “I fear … death, sickness, terrorist attacks, demons, financial ruin, fear of public speaking, fear of intimacy, fear of abandonment, fear for my children, fear of being hurt or abused, fear of anxiety, fear of failure, and fear of success.”
It’s interesting that fear was one of the first emotions after sin. Adam and Eve experienced Shame—they were naked. They experienced Fear—they were afraid. And they tried to Control—they hid and covered themselves with fig leaves (Genesis 3:10). This was the first of many Shame-Fear-Control cycles that humankind would experience.
Spirit of Fear
The Bible talks about a spirit of fear; “for I have not given you a spirit of fear, but of power and love and discipline.” (2Timothy 1:7). Do you ever wonder; might there be a spiritual component to fear?
365 times the Bible reminds people to “FEAR NOT” … makes me wonder; rather than inordinately focusing on fearful thoughts, and fearing every negative story our culture throws at us, what if our primary fear was the fear of the Lord? The Bible declares; “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 1:7).
Every week Anne and I meet with couples who share how they regularly default to inordinately focusing on fear. Pause for a moment—whether you are married or single—what do you fear? Consider the amount of time and energy you spend focusing on your fears. What is the result of living a fear-focused/fear-fueled life and marriage? Figuratively speaking, might it be wise to remove some of the emotional-fear-fig-leaves you use in attempts to cover your fears?
Throughout decades of counseling, we regularly challenge clients to resist a spirit of fear. We remind them that “fear responds to fear”—“love responds to love”—and “control responds to control”. We encourage clients to prayerfully review their fears, and note how many of their fears are connected to control. Our real-life experience is the more control a person exhibits, the more fearful they become. It’s like control is the fertile soil that produces growing fears.
All that is to say, I believe the real problem in a person’s life, marriage, and in our culture is not a Fear problem—but a LOVE problem. The Bible says; “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1John 4:18).
REAL LIFE Application:
+ Write down everything you fear.
+ I.O.T.L. (inquire of the Lord) … invite the Holy Spirit to give you revelation and a renewed perspective about the fears you listed … ask your good Father God to give you His perspective surrounding your fears.
+ Explore how your fears might relate to control?
+ For husbands and wives, how might fear negatively impact your marriage?
+ Write down one or two practical ways you can choose to replace Fear and Control with LOVE?