And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
The Frequency of Fear
I did some research on this devotional and found that the word “fear” shows up nearly 450 times in the Bible! If you include worry, anxiety (or being anxious), and concern, the number skyrockets to well over 1,000 times. So it appears that our natural tendency as humans, even those of us who believe, is to fear. My seminary professor said that fear is the most frequent thing that Jesus spoke about in the four Gospels. God knows all things, and knowing our hearts, He must realize that we are very prone to fear. However, fear of failure can prevent us from doing something we are commanded to, like sharing the Gospel with our family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. The last statistics I heard were that 76% of people who do not attend church have not ever been asked. Is it fear that’s stopped us from asking someone to our church?
When Jesus was speaking to His disciples before sending them out to preach the Gospel, He told them that they’d be like sheep being sent out among the wolves (Matt. 10:16). They would be flogged, dragged into the courts (Matt. 10:17), before kings and governors (Matt. 10:18), but they were not to fear about what they will say ((Matt. 10:19). Why not fear? Because Jesus told them that the Spirit of the Father will speak through them (Matt. 10:20). Even though family members will all turn on each other, some will be put to death (Matt. 10:21), and they’ll be fiercely hated for Jesus’ sake (Matt. 10:22), they should not fear. If they did it to Jesus, then they’ll surely do it to His servants (Matt. 10:24-25). Are you ready for it? The day may come when it will be dangerous or illegal to preach the Gospel. It already is in about 80% of the world. Will the fear of failure keep us from sharing the Gospel or the fear of being hated stop us?
Jesus Triumph Over Failure
After Jesus’ death on the cross, the disciples were all fearful and in hiding with their doors locked (John 20:19). The Jewish leaders, the people of Judea, and even the disciples saw Jesus’ death on the cross as a total failure. However, that was not really failure but the greatest victory of all. Just think about Gideon’s army of 300 versus thousands. Did fear of failure stop him? What about David’s taking on Goliath? Did fear of failure stop him? Did fear of failure stop the apostles from preaching the Gospel after Jesus’ ascension into heaven? No, no, and once again no. I’m not saying they might not have feared failing, but they did it anyway because their greatest fear might have been in failing Jesus in fulfilling the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 1:8). What has a fear of failure stopped you from doing? Pray to God for courage and understand that we haven’t any need to fear what man can do (Matt. 10:26, 28).
A Closing Prayer
Father, please forgive my fears and particularly my fear of failure when it has stopped me from doing what I know I need to do. Give me the encouragement, which I know I can find in Your Word, and in Jesus’ most powerful name I pray.
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