Good Fear, Bad Fear

“The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous.” Psalm 19:9

The popular sentiment today is “fear nothing.” You can order t-shirts which say, “Afraid of Nothing”, “Fear is the mind-killer”, “I fear no beer”, and “No excuses, no fear, no shame.” But, is fear always sinister? The Bible presents fear sort of like our understanding of cholesterol—there’s good fear and bad fear. Let’s start with the bad fear. Jesus Himself often admonished His disciples to “fear not.” When He said this, the disciples were usually up to their necks in difficult trials and were tempted to forget God. Bad fear magnifies problems and minimizes God. The antidote to this kind of fear is faith. If you search the Scriptures where Jesus says, “do not fear,” you will also find Him challenging His disciples to trust…placing their faith in Him. As we mature in our relationship with the Lord, we learn to react against the wrong kind of fear by prayer and the Word of God. Now, let’s look at the good kind of fear. In Matthew 10:28, Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Our God is Creator and holds in His hands the power of eternal life and death! He loves us, but we better not play with sin. The healthy, good fear of God keeps us reverent and respectful. This type of fear does not drive us away from God, but repels us from anything that dishonors Him. Proverbs 3:7-8 declares, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” Here we discover the healthy fear of God not only blesses us spiritually but affects the daily strength of our body! A body at peace will not have to waste energy fighting constant battles with anxiety, guilt, and worry. In summary, let’s realize the difference between good fear and bad fear…and seek to “be in the fear of the Lord all the day long” (Prov. 23:17).

Pastor Mark Boucher

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