Have you heard the acronym often given for FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real)?
2 Timothy 1:7 (AMP) says, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].
If we haven’t been given a spirit of fear, why do we feel afraid at times? Why is it stated in Scripture, over and over, “Fear not” or “Do not be afraid”? Experience has told us, time and time again, that we’re given plenty of opportunities to be afraid in life. What I realized, as I meditated on the above Scripture, and thought about other golden nuggets throughout God’s Word, was simply this: God is not the source of fear and He enables us to overcome it, as we choose to look to Him.
As I reflected further, I also understood, that just because God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, that doesn’t mean something or someone else isn’t going to offer it to us. It’s up to us if we’ll receive it or not. Fear is certainly, alive and well, but whether we give into fear…well, that depends entirely on us, and who we believe God is for us in our circumstances. Will we allow Him to be our continual strength and peace through it all? Our decision as to Who we’ll look to as our source of courage becomes our saving grace in overcoming fear.
The Bible tells us, God is love and that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:16-18). We can choose to take on fear when it comes, or we can take into our hearts the greater truth: That greater truth is who God is for us. When fear makes its way to our minds, it’s up to us to decide what we’ll do with those thoughts, and whether we’ll allow them to travel from our first line of defense (our thought life) to find lodging into our hearts (what we ultimately believe).
I’m reminded of 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV) which says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Fear can only take up residence in our hearts if we choose to dwell on the thoughts fueling our fears, rather than on the goodness of the One who overcomes them on our behalf. Communion with His Presence helps us to do the latter. As we believe in God’s good intentions toward us and rely on His unfailing and unconditional love, evidenced through the work of Christ on the cross for our benefit, we can be victorious over fear.
Fear is only “false evidence appearing real” when you know Who it is that’s on your side. Otherwise, fear does indeed appear and becomes very real. Our hope for a calm mind comes when we choose to turn from fear to faith. We can do so because we have a trustworthy and faithful God who stands securely by our side at all times.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10 NIV).