Responding to Fear With Faith

“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! Matthew 6:22-23 (NASB)

Jesus’ main point in this verse is that if our minds are wrongly focused it has an effect on our whole body. When we are focused on what our fears are and things to be anxious about our minds are focused in the wrong direction. Worry expresses looking at life through competing eyes (vs 22-23) and reveals a divided heart, divided focus, and even divided loyalties. If you really think about it, you will see that many of the things you worry about are revealing your idols.

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. Matthew 6:24 (NASB)

Money is the object lesson here, but the principle is transferable! We worship and serve that which we truly love. To be self-focused on one’s self and the pursuit of one’s idols is idolatry of the heart. Jesus is saying you cannot serve God and anything else.

Begin to see what you are doing and thinking about and believing through God’s eyes. That is the perspective that counts! You and I can rationalize away our worry as emotionalism or a bad day, or a set of circumstances that would “cause anyone to worry” but it is not until we begin to see worry for what it is that we can gain an accurate perspective and find the cure!

According to a study of Matt. 6:25-34, worry is the fruit of remaining unbelief.

If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Matthew 6:30 (NIV)

When you worry, you are denying God’s power, sovereignty, wisdom and love for you in your situation. Here, Jesus rebukes the worrier for being one of little faith. He reminds us that God takes care of the grass, a relatively small thing, so how can you doubt he’ll take care of you?

“Oh, but you don’t know my situation!” you may be thinking. I don’t need to know, God knows your circumstances. Consider this: is God using these circumstances to reveal to you your lack of faith?

What is “faith” anyway? There are many definitions around, but I like the one my Pastor uses: Definition of Faith- It is the knowledge of God’s character, the belief that He’s able to do all that He’s promised, and the trust to follow Him wherever He leads.  God’s desire is that your faith would grow and that you would also grow in grace. Matt. 6:25-30; 2 Pet. 3:18

You and I are not alone in this, nor are we the first people who have struggled with worry. The Old Testament narratives are a great place to find the stories of the Saints and learn that ultimately, they were just like you and I. They dealt with fear, worry and anxiety-sometimes well and other times sinfully.

Scripture teaches that their examples ought to instruct us-either to respond biblically or in a negative sense, show us where they went wrong. (Romans 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11)

We see in Scripture that there were times Abraham showed incredible faith-leaving Ur, sacrificing Isaac, the rescue of Lot’s people and so on. Yet, Abraham feared for his life before the Pharaoh and asked his wife to lie about who she was so that she could be turned over to a harem! Once was bad, twice was worse! It boggles my mind that after God brought them through that situation unharmed, and the humiliation Abraham suffered as a result of his lack of faith he actually committed the same sin, and demonstrated the same lack of faith a second time. (Genesis 12) Again God rescued them and that is a great illustration of how all of us can be incredibly self-centered depending on the situation.

Have you ever taken a course such as this? Been so fearful and worried about how a situation would turn out that you lied in an attempt to orchestrate the results?

And how about Abraham’s lovely Sarah… (Gen. 16: 1-15) She certainly had fears of her own. Despite the promise (the promise!) that God gave to Abraham that he would be the father of many generations she could see as the years went by that God had closed her womb and she desperately wanted to give Abraham a son. She wanted to “help” God fulfill His promise! So, she took matters into her own hands and had her husband sleep with her maid to give her a child, and Hagar became a surrogate mother. We cannot determine if it was impatience as the main factor or if it was fear or worry that God would not follow through with his promise that drove her to make this tragic decision but the result was she doubted God’s Word.

Have you ever thought you needed to “help” God fulfill His promises? Many do just that as they attempt to add to the payment of Christ for their sins by living a good life, obeying the Ten Commandments and so on. God has promised us that Christ is enough, and paid more than enough to assure our ransom. 

And then there is Peter, who loved Jesus so deeply yet after his bold protestations of being willing to die for Christ he found a great fear of man when and in the end he denied Christ three times. (John 13:36-38)
Have you been in such a situation? Perhaps with your unsaved family at a gathering where someone begins to lambaste Christianity and mock God or the Bible? You know the right thing is to respond for Jesus and yet the fear of man is so great you stay silent and slink out of the room. That is a terrible feeling and I can only imagine Peter’s grief and sorrow at his cowardly display. 

The young protege of Paul, Timothy also struggled with fear because he was young and the older men of the church would not respect him. He was also afraid due to the political climate in which he ministered. 

Paul exhorted him by saying,
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) 

So you see, you and I are in good company! This certainly does not excuse our worry or fear, in fact just the opposite. God has recorded these things for us to look back on and learn from that you and I might respond righteously.