When the Bible says fear is a torment, the holy writ is referring to negative fear. Positive fear may also be inspired by love, awe, restraint, defense against evil, respect or worship.
Fear operates at two levels. There’s the positive and negative dimension of it. But what really is fear? The elementary definition of fear is the bad feeling you have when you are in danger.
This simple definition was taken from the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary and it deals with the negative aspect of fear, which is our main concern in this discourse. Positive fear, on the other hand, keeps you from harm’s way; it saves you from God’s wrath or judgement and actually inspires you to achieve great success, if you know how to turn it to your advantage.
The Bible says, “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.” The fear of God is reverential fear, like the fear of those we love and respect. If you fear God or someone because you love them, that’s positive fear. If you fear God or anyone because of their threat of sanction or wrath, that’s negative fear; it could cause you to live in torment. That’s because you are in constant dread of the person so feared. It is a bad feeling. It robs you of your peace.
When the Bible says fear is a torment, the holy writ is referring to negative fear. Positive fear may also be inspired by love, awe, restraint, defense against evil, respect or worship. When we hold someone in high esteem, we tend to fear them, not because they might harm us but because we don’t like to hurt or disappoint them in any way. That’s how positive fear is expressed.
God put positive fear in us to alert us to danger. When danger knocks, fear enables us to take defensive action or simply escape to save our lives. This fear doesn’t torment.
Negative fear manifests in three different ways. The fear of death, fear of failure, and the fear of lack. These three major fears are common to all humans, regardless of status, race, gender, or age. The fear of death holds everyone in bondage because we all must die as a result of sin. The sobering thought of going down the grave from sickness, accident, old age, murder or any other unforeseen mishap humbles every man or woman.
There are two ways to handle the fear of death. You may take it philosophically or carnally like Shakespeare said: “Death is a necessary end; it will come when it will come.” Since we are helpless against it, you just accept it as a fate accompli. This is a negative response to the fear of death. Conversely, you could take it spiritually like a born-again Christian and say, there’s hope for a resurrection in Christ Jesus because He has paid the price of sin. From the Christian spiritual experience, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead took care of the fear of death. This is clearly a positive response to the fear of death.
The fear of failure drives men to two extremes: it either inspires you to achieve, if you respond to it positively, or it keeps you from daring to do anything worthwhile, if expressed negatively. If you live a life of purpose, you don’t need to fear failure or anything for that matter because you know what you are doing and where you are going.
Failure is caused by the absence of vision. The Bible says where there’s no vision, the people cast off restraint. They become a people without purpose, and, therefore, are gripped by the fear of the unknown. Fear is largely a function of lack of knowledge of where the wild storms of life are taking you. You are left to fate, and then you begin to fear.
Fear of lack plagues every man or woman, because we all feel short of something per time. We are never satisfied with the possession of all things that guarantee human comfort or happiness – money, love, power, position, and even life span. We are perpetually looking for more of anything, like Oliver Twist. That’s why, although you are a millionaire, you still want to become a billionaire. The human appetite is always insatiable when it comes to material things. Even if you live in abundance, you still lack certain things.
That’s why you find that as soon you get something you need, like a new car, you soon develop a desire for the latest model. The urge of man can never be satisfied, because the spectre of going back to poverty is everyone’s nightmare. Everybody wants to be up-to-date. We want to be current. We want to be in the thick of the trend; when we seem not to achieve this desire, fear sets in.
Somehow, fear of failure and fear of lack are intertwined. When you are poor, you lack financial capacity and you look miserable. Men and women will do anything to live above the poverty level. Someone has said that education is the best security against poverty. The Holy Spirit, however, remains the best insurance against any type of fear because He gives you supernatural ability to do all things in Christ who strengthen you. Paul the Apostle said: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
“The man who measures success in life by the standpoint of money has not caught the true meaning of success”
– Oswald J. Smith
Ok folks, let’s do it again next Friday. Stay motivated.
Ayodeji is an author, rights activist, Pastor and life coach. He can be reached on 09059243004 (SMS & WhatsApp only)