There’s something about seeing a bird playing on the winds of a stormy day. It’s one of the most awe-inspiring things I can imagine.
This frail creature, throwing itself out into storms that can batter waves against rocks, pick up things and hurl them into the skies, whip sand into a frenzy.
But the birds play in it.
They spread their wings and commit themselves wholly to that same wind, letting it lift them, letting it hold them in place far above the ground, letting it take them where it wants for those few brief moments while they just rest. It seems so peaceful, although those winds buffet all the trees, the people, the dirt and sand.
The birds aren’t afraid of it though it routinely crushes things in its path.Not all fear is bad… Click To Tweet
Healthy Fear as a Tool
We put on our seat belts, strap our kids into car seats, drive defensively. We wear protective equipment to guard against eye strain or infectious diseases in risky situations. We look both ways before walking out onto a busy street, we wear life jackets when out in a boat, we stretch before jogging. We do all sorts of things to ensure our safety every day.
Sometimes it feels as if that’s all we hear – different ways we can be safer doing any number of things in our lives. Sometimes I think we want a life wrapped in safety more than we want anything else.
Why do we do this? Why do we take so many precautions in our daily lives?
Wisdom? Knowledge of consequences? Safeguarding our loved ones? Fear?
I admit that fear is not in and of itself bad. Fear can serve us well, keeping us from doing things that are truly harmful. Without any fear at all, we’d likely do irreparable harm to ourselves very early on in life.
Fear can be a good tool, but a harsh taskmaster when allowed to rule us.
We fear poverty. We fear physical harm. We fear emotional trauma. We fear loneliness and hunger. We fear financial strain. We fear loss of loved ones.
Seems like our list of fears is getting very long. And I believe that when the list gets too long, we can fall into an unhealthy spirit of fear.
And that spirit of fear takes over and becomes the taskmaster.
Fear of the Lord
There are very few things that God tells us to fear.
God says we *ought* to fear Himself.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.Prov. 9:10
This sort of fear is not a trembling in terror at His presence, but a respect, an awe in His presence that means we don’t want to offend Him.
This type of fear (the fear of God) leads to life and rest and peace.
God doesn’t want us to be foolish either. We don’t walk out onto a busy highway because we have a healthy fear of getting hit by a car.
But a spirit of fear, that’s a different story.
How can we know that we’ve crossed over the line and are letting a spirit of fear overcome us?
I’m reminded of this verse:
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.2 Timothy 1:7
3 Signs of a Spirit of Fear
Three signs of a spirit of fear came to mind. The spirit of fear is the opposite of power, love, and a sound mind.
1). A Spirit of Fear Steals Our Power From God.
Fear causes us to look to other things for a safety net. For instance, fear of poverty is appeased by relying on money to provide a safety net. If your bank account is getting low and that causes you anxiety – that can be a sign that you’re relying on the safety of money rather than relying on the power of God in your life.
2). A Spirit of Fear Interferes With Loving Other People.
It can cause us to lash out at those nearby. An unhealthy fear can manifest in a sort of panic. It creates this need for immediate action rather than thoughtful planning. When fear grips us in a harmful way like this, we may lash out in anger at whoever seems to be standing between us and that safety goal. This is a sign that the spirit of fear is controlling us.
3). A Spirit of Fear Prevents a “Sound Mind” When it Ceases To Be Rational.
It may ask us, demand for us, to do extraordinary things to appease it. An irrational, unhealthy fear may create such a block in our mind that we cannot even function at times.
It’s not healthy when a spirit of fear is in control.
This is not of God.
You can take reasonable precautions to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. It’s unhealthy when those precautions cease to be rational. As an example, safety might mean you pay attention to where the pan handles are when cooking on a hot stove with small children nearby. An unhealthy fear would tell you that you should not be cooking at all – ever – because cooking involves fire and fire is dangerous.
3 Ways to Combat a Spirit of Fear
So how do we combat a spirit fear?
The Bible says that perfect love casts out fear. The only Person I know who has a perfect love is God Himself.
- Dwelling on God is the answer.
- Letting God be the Ruler is the answer.
- Trusting in God’s plan, leaning on His understanding, believing in His promises.
Join the Conversation
What sort of things do you fear and how have you been able to overcome them?