I’m forty-four years old and I still have to get out of bed and close my closet door if I see that it is open even a crack. I’m no longer afraid of monsters or imagine that some ax murderer is lurking in my closet, yet I cannot break the habit of checking the door. That’s how fear works. It can drive us and may even put us in the habit of doing something long term. What we need to examine is whether the behavior is harmless like closing a closet door, or is it something more serious that interferes with our lives?
There are two different types of fear. There is the beneficial fear that we should have of the Lord. This is the reverential awe of God and does not necessarily mean we are to be afraid of God as much as we are to be in awe of His power and glory all the while aware of His wrath and judgment.[i] To possess this type of fear means that we have a good handle on our relationship with God and this relationship is the key to overcoming the second type of fear. This second fear also has its place. Without fear, we would not have a healthy emotional response to danger and could not protect ourselves from “legitimate threats.”[ii] It is when we allow fear to move past this point, feeding it continuously with our varying scenarios that it leeches onto us, thriving on our untruths until it is so large that one cannot carry on with life the way God intended. Our freedom is compromised.
When I get caught in a slump, I notice how one negative emotion can turn into an avalanche of negativity and this is where fear has its roots .[iii] So what is the first step in changing that negativity? We need to change our thoughts. In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul writes to the Corinthians about the untruths that the false teachers were bringing into the the church. His advice: “We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.” Paul was instructing the Corinthians to embrace the truth of Christ as they were originally taught. How? By taking every thought captive. The Greek word for captive is aichmalótizó, meaning making a prisoner. When battling fear, we need to keep close tabs on the thoughts going through our minds. Fleeting thoughts can easily turn negative and grow out of control so we must treat them as if they are a prisoner – unpredictable and easily out of control. As soon as a negative thought enters into our mind we need to demolish it with positivity. “What ifs” need to become “I cans” and “I cant’s” need to become “God can”. So this week let’s begin by monitoring our thoughts, because God can transform us and empower us and we can begin to overcome fear by changing our thoughts.
Until next time