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Don't be Afraid

Luke 12:4-7
‘I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (NIVUK)

One of the most common commands in the Bible is, "Don't be afraid"!  Fear is a complex emotion which is triggered by the threat of loss - loss of life, loss of well-being, loss of freedom, and loss of face.  Tempting people to fear is one of the most potent weapons in Satan's limited armoury as it is just as effective whether the threat is real or not (which is how terrorism works).  The antidote to fear is love: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)

But there are some things for which we should have an awesome respect or fear - like radioactivity, electricity, and God Himself.  So, one of the most important elements of discipleship is knowing when Godly fear will guard us and when fear is Satan's way to disable us.  Psalm 111:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”.

In these verses Jesus is addressing His disciples, instructing them not to fear human beings who threaten to kill, but to be in awe of God whose judgement is final and eternal.  He was preparing them for His own death and the persecution of the early church: He was telling them that God knows and values all those who are willing to suffer because they are being faithful to Him (2 Timothy 3:12).  The discomforts of this life, violent opposition and even death have a limit; but the judgement of God is unlimited and timeless (Matthew 25:46).  Therefore, we should be keenly focussed on how best to please Him, and not succumb to the fleshly habit of trying to avoid the anger of godless people by disobeying our Master and incurring His wrath (Matthew 10:32-33).

This remains a frequent challenge to Christians today.  We must keep reminding ourselves who we belong to, and who has the final right to tell us what to do.  There will be many tests of our faith, but we must never believe it is more important to fear what people might do to us than honour God by obeying Him.  Indeed, even when hostility beats a path to our door, the Lord is watching, to guard and protect His children who have more service to fulfil, and honour those whose service is complete.  So, do not be afraid: get on with your daily work as a child of heaven on earth, until you are called home.  And do pray for our many brothers and sisters who are facing huge challenges of faith today, deciding that Jesus must have the highest honour and some of them paying the price.  They will follow in the steps of the Apostles and of Jesus Christ Himself.

Almighty God, my Heavenly Father. Thank You that You understand the hatred of ungodly people and that Jesus has experienced the worst that mankind can do. Thank You also for the care with which You guard Your people and honour those who suffer in Your Name. Forgive me for the times when I have been afraid of living as Your child in a hostile world. I pray for those who delight in ridiculing Your Name and belittling Your servants. May they see Your love in me and be drawn to receive Your mercy and grace. I pray for my brothers and sisters throughout the world who are suffering today: please keep them strong to keep living for You despite the threats against them. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams