Fear controls many people. Some fear failure; some fear other people’s opinions; some fear speaking to strangers; some fear speaking in public; some fear losing their job; some fear the end of life. Fear of the unknown can cause anxiety, stress, unrest, and even physical problems.
When Jesus came walking on the water to his disciples, they thought they saw a ghost. They were filled with fear, as you and I might have been. “But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid” (John 6:20).
Afraid of Others – Some people spend their whole lives trying to make other people happy. They sacrifice and serve so others will like them. But, it is impossible to please everyone. Someone wisely said, “You can please all of the people some of the time. You can please some of the people all of the time. But you cannot please all of the people all of the time.”* Trying to please people will hinder you from pleasing God (Galatians 1:10). Do not fall into this trap (Proverbs 29:25).
Afraid Of Responsibility – Many years ago, I first heard Dr. Ted Camp say, “It would have been better for some of you not to have learned sign language. Now that you know signs, you are responsible to use your signs for God.” Knowledge causes responsibility. It is easy to remain in your “comfort zone.” Ignorance is easy. If you do nothing and learn nothing, you will be ignorant of the blessings you missed! But, knowledge is good! (Pr. 4:7).
Afraid to Sign – I enjoy teaching sign language and have noticed that most beginners are afraid to sign in front of others. Some say, “I don’t want anyone to see me sign.” But without being seen, sign language means nothing! It is good to practice alone, but when you use what you know, you will learn more. Teachers know that the best way to learn is to teach. “Doing” helps you remember what you have learned. “Doing” reveals the need to improve. Practice makes permanent!
Afraid to Talk – Some people have never met a stranger. They can easily talk with anyone they meet. They even share very personal information with their new friends. Other people are naturally more shy or reserved. They seem to fear sharing information with people they do not know well. They may even sit next to someone for an hour without sharing even their names. These people require time to develop friendships and to trust others. If you want to have friends, you must be a friend (Proverbs 18:24).
Afraid to Speak in Public – Speaking in front of a crowd (large or small) creates fear in as many as 75% of people.** It seems that many people would rather die than give a speech. But sometimes you must speak up. Some things are too important to keep silent. For example, Jesus, after His resurrection, told the two Marys, “Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me” (Matthew 28:10). They were naturally surprised and nervous about what they had seen. Jesus said, “Don’t fear, but go tell.” Jesus told Paul to not fear, but be willing to speak. Even the great Apostle Paul experienced fear, but Paul obeyed and boldly taught for six months (Acts 18:9).
Fear is Not a Christian Value – Should a Christian always be shy and timid? Should Christians be quiet and never speak up? NO! Do not fear the opinion of others, fear responsibility, fear doing something for God, fear talking with others or fear giving your testimony. Be bold. Obey God and trust Him for the results. “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). The Lord knows your future. He is in control. God never says, “Oh, no! That was not the way I planned.”
As Peter stepped out of the boat and walked on water, you can step out and obey God. Peter conquered his fear and saw God do the impossible. So can you!
*The original quotation, which said “fool” instead of “please,” is attributed to both President Abraham Lincoln and P.T. Barnham.