Living in Fear

By Not Known

Fear is a terrible ‘thing’ to live with. People in some countries have lived in fear of their tyrannical governments. The international community constantly live in fear of some reclusively unpredictable neighbours. Children often also lived in fear of their angry parents. Fear has its way of controlling, suppressing, and manipulating human freewill according to the wills and wants of the object of fear.

Terrible though fear may be, it is an unavoidable and even necessary element in life itself. Fear may help to shake off our pride, our complacency, our indifference, our tardiness, etc. Fear may also bring about openness and submission to another standard or ideal or requirement. Therefore, fear in and of itself is not necessarily bad always.

In Nehemiah 5, the Jewish officials and nobles were reprimanded for not “walk[ing] in the fear of our God…” (v9). Without fear, their behaviours damaged the lives of others under their charges. In contrast, Nehemiah did not lord over the people “out of reverence for God” (v15). “Fear” in the sense of “reverence/respect/piety” as used in the context of these verses suggests that the object of fear matters a great deal.

Under God, fear censures ruthlessness, convicts wrongful behaviour, demands correction and restitution, and promotes goodness. Fear drives us to conform to the standard, ideal, and requirement of God who is holy, righteous, just and good. Without the fear of God, the fear of Man takes over. In other words, we either live under godly fear or humanly fear at any one time. Human fear can take various forms – fear of self, such as lack of esteem, inability, incapacity, etc. Or it might be a fear of other people, such as distrust, dispute, disillusionment, etc.

In Christ, you and I have been restored under God to live in godly fear. In Christ, we have also been released from living under human fear. 1 John 4:18 declares: 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. So, let us live daily in fear of God because the one whom we fear loves us perfectly. How terrific!