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Fear is a powerful motivator. It prompts us to flee, it prompts us to fight, and it paralyzes. Earlier this week following the presidential debate, I read an article that discussed the factors contributing to Donald Trump’s popularity as a candidate. One of the reasons for his success is that he has tapped into many Americans’ fears: fear of losing jobs, fear of Isis, fear that America is no longer great, etc. People follow him because he addresses their fears and fears are powerful.
Fear can take many forms. Some are silly; other are much more serious. There are fears such as the fear of bugs, the fear of tight spaces, and the fear of clowns. There are also much more serious fears like fear of physical harm, fear of rejection, fear of death, and fear of failure, to name a few. Each of these fears pushes us in a different direction, towards different decisions and actions. My fear of bugs, for instance, motivates me to jump on the couch when a roach scurries across the floor. Often, our fears war within us. Fear of failure can paralyze, while a fear of wasting our life may motivate us to act. Fear of rejection may lead us to sit quietly by ourselves, but a fear of loneliness pushes us into social situations that we would otherwise avoid.
Scripture teaches that there are ultimately two types of fear: fear of God and fear of man (Luke 12:4-5). One motivates us towards sin and judgment; the other motivates us towards righteousness. Throughout the Bible we are commanded to fear God (Ecclesiastes 5:7; Proverbs 9:10), but this doesn’t come easy for us. The fear of man, however, does come naturally; it’s second-nature. We are all prone to keep silent (or even lie!) in order to be liked by the people around us and avoid uncomfortable situations; this is our default setting. The fear of God must be cultivated. How is this done? Meditate on his attributes (the Psalms are a great book for this) or spend time out in His creation with Him as your focus. We worship an amazing God who deserves our fear and our respect. Do you fear Him?
Scripture: Esther 5:1-8
Sermon: Fear God, Not Man