Fear can be a crippling emotion. Fear can keep us from doing the right thing at the time in which it is most needed. At times we can get down on ourselves because we are fearful, and we think we lack courage to do what is right. We often think that the most courageous person is the one who lacks fear. But a quick turn through our bible will show us that even the greats of the Bible were at times afraid to act, and yet they overcame their fears and did what was right.
Many times the disciples of our Lord were afraid. Sometimes this fear was working to cripple them in doing what needed to be done. Several lessons can be drawn from the occasions that surrounded Jesus’ commandment to “… not be afraid.”
Do not be afraid during the Storms of Life. In Matthew 14, Jesus made his disciples cross the Sea of Galilee to wait for him on the other side. While rowing across, the sea a fierce storm overtakes them and waves beat against the boat. The storm was such that the disciples feared for their lives. When Jesus comes to them he tells them “Do not be afraid.” (Mat 14:27) The same comforting words of Jesus still calm the storms of our lives today. When the storms rage and the contrary winds blow against your boat, remember, there is one who sees, there is one who cares, and there is one that will come to your aide saying, “It is I; do not be afraid.”
Do not be afraid to be in the presence of God. As Peter, James and John are witnessing our transfigured Lord converse with Moses and Elijah, God speaks to them from heaven. When the disciples heard God’s voice and realized they were in his presence, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. Jesus goes to them and states “Arise, and do not be afraid.” (Mat 17:7) There are many Christians who are fearful of being in the presence of God. When we are in the presence of God we recognize our sinful state and unworthiness. Many are afraid to admit their sins, fearing the wrath of God. But we serve a merciful and gracious God who wants his children to come to him repenting, asking for forgiveness. Jesus says to us “Do not be afraid” to be in the presence of God but instead go “boldly to the throne of grace.” (Heb 4:16)
Do not be afraid to go and tell others that Jesus has risen. As Mary Magdalene clutched the feet of her risen Lord He gave her a special mission. “Do not be afraid” He said, “Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” (Mat 28:10) This is still the mission of each and every Christian today. Go and tell others that Jesus has risen and that they will see him again. Fear can keep us from telling others the good news. One of the biggest fears that hinder us from telling others the good news is that many don’t know what to say. Jesus makes the message simple, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.”(Mrk 5:19) “Do not be afraid go and tell” the wonderful news of Jesus Christ to all your friends and family. With the Lord by your side you have no need to fear.
Do not be afraid when death comes. Jairus desperately sought out the healing powers of Jesus for his ailing daughter. When he received the news that his little girl had died, his heart must have been crushed. Jesus recognized the loss of his hope and the fear that came into his heart and said to him “Do not be afraid; only believe.” (Mrk 5:36) The Apostle Paul did not fear death, instead he welcomed it by recognizing that on the other side of death’s door lay a “far better” place. (Phi 1:23) When death stands at the door of our lives or the lives of a loved one the words of Jesus still ring true “Do not be afraid; only believe.” Believe that those who die in the Lord will be blessed and have rest from their labors. (Rev 14:13)
Do not be afraid to speak out against sin. Corinth was a city given over to debauchery. A quick scan of the sins listed in 1 Cor 6:9-10 would make anyone blush. It is in this atmosphere that Paul preaches the saving grace of God. When he first arrives, he is there in “weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.” (1 Cor 2:3) The fact that the city was given over to so much sin could have been a root cause of his fears. But the Lord comforts him by saying “Do not be afraid… for I have many people in this city.” (Act 18:9, 10) When it seems like the world is given over to sin and you want to throw up your hands and say “Forget it, I’ll teach no more!” Jesus comes and says “Do not be afraid, but speak” because who knows perhaps the next person you speak to may be one of the “the many people” who belong to Jesus.
If we allow it, fear can keep us from doing what needs to be done in service to the kingdom. Jesus clearly says “Do not be afraid” but press on to the goal, accomplish the work. Let us not be Christians who yield to fear, but instead let us be Christians who with the help of our Savior master our fears.