Fearing without Being Afraid
David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you.” – 1 Chronicles 28:20
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Isn’t this what the Bible tells us? Yet we so often find Jesus telling people to “fear not.” Isn’t that a contradiction? Is He discouraging wisdom and thereby recommending foolishness?
No. Jesus is making a distinction between what’s often called “servile” and “filial” fear. Servile fear is the fear of a slave—a fear of punishment unmodified by love. Filial fear is something very different. It’s a fear borne of love; the healthy and reverent fear a child has when rightly related to a loving parent.
So what then is Jesus saying to us when He counsels us to “fear not?” He’s saying that, as long as we fear God, we never need to be afraid of God. What wonderful words of comfort!
I am not afraid of storms, for I’m learning to sail my ship. – Aeschylus (ancient Greek playwright)
Father, thank you that even though you are the God of the Universe, you don’t desire to control us with fear. I thank you that because of this I can approach you with reverence but also with the confidence that you have my best interests at heart. As your follower, help me never try to control others with fear.