We give you the outline for a talk about how to handle your fears. This talk is part of the series “Christian and Emotions”. Scripture selections and a suggested guide for action group discussion and sharing follow the outline and summary.

• There are many forms of fear that can govern our life: good and helpful, or destructive, depending on our response to what is happening to us.
• How should a Christian handle feelings of fear?

Fear in the Christian’s life

• Fear is a God-given part of our human make-up. It is part of our response to situations of challenge or danger.
• Fear alerts us to danger and sets our ‘quick response’ reflex in action.
• Healthy fear teaches us proper caution to potentially dangerous things/situations.
• Fear is not automatically either ‘wrong’ or ‘good’.

Some forms of ‘good’ or ‘helpful’ fear

• Fear of the Lord. We acknowledge His majesty and power over us, and respond accordingly. Also called ‘reverence’ or ‘awe’.
• A healthy fear of authority can be helpful, when it produces a positive response to the authority. Ex. a child’s ‘fear’ of his parents.

Some fears can be either good or bad

• Cautiousness is fear expressed by “checking things out” and not proceeding until we are sure it is safe.
Good: walking through a minefield.
Bad: overly-cautious driver

• Conservativeness.
Good: being discriminating in adopting new things; desiring to preserve something of value.
Bad: wanting to avoid all change; avoiding even moderate risk.

Some forms of unhelpful fear

• Cowardice is running away from all suffering and danger. Ex. physical discomfort, standing up for what is right and just, social discomfort or being laughed at, loss of reputation or friendship. Social cowardice is manifested as timidity, shyness, lack of expressiveness, inability to share personal experiences or feelings.
• Anxiety is fear of the future and what it might bring.
• These bad forms of fear go hand-in-hand with poor self-image and lack of self-confidence.
• These areas are also prone to spiritual hassle and attack.
• Bad fear often indicates a lack of trust … in God and in others.

How can you tell the difference?

• Fear is good and helpful if it leads us:
 to make the right response,
 to keep the commandments of God,
 to keep us from taking a foolish risk that could bring harm to ourselves or others either physically, materially, etc.

• Fear is bad and unhelpful if it leads us:
 to make a wrong response,
 to run from something we should face up to,
 to fail to do things we ought to do,
 to act cowardly when we should be confident,
 to avoid taking appropriate risks.

What is the Christian approach to Fear?

• With Confidence = Freedom from bondage to fear of disapproval. Our confidence comes from knowing who we are in God’s eyes, and knowing that He loves us.
• With Boldness = Freedom from bondage to fear of opposition. Christian boldness comes from knowing what God wants us to do and acting firmly to do it. We can face opposition from without or from within. 2 Tim. 1:7: For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.
• With Courage = Freedom from bondage to fear of danger or suffering. Our courage comes from knowing that God is with us, He is our Strength. Deut. 31:6-8. Courage is not the absence of fear, but doing the right thing despite fear. We should not let fear rule our lives.
• With Readiness to accept hardship and suffering. The Christian life does not guarantee freedom from pain or hardship, but it does guarantee that the Lord will always be with us. Romans 8:14-17.
• With Wisdom = consistently knowing what should be the right response. James 3:17, 18.

Antidotes for problematic Fears that persist: FAITH & FIGHT

• We should fight to maintain our FAITH.
• Focus on the Lord’s promises, not on feelings of fear.
• Memorize Scriptures that can help us grow in FAITH.
• We must maintain proper FEAR of the Lord.
• We must take a stand and FIGHT to control our persistent fears.
• Acknowledge the fear.
• Face it with the truth.
• Repent for giving in and letting the fear rule you.
• Call on God’s help. Phil 4:6.
• Never give up. Always trust…

Remember…

It’s not mainly our efforts that help us handle our emotions, it is living in the Holy Spirit, in community, with the love and support of brothers and sisters.

Conquering our emotions and responding rightly in any situation is a measure of our trust in God’s power, providence and help.

We must not focus on ourselves and our difficulties, but we must look upward to our God. We focus on loving Him, loving our brothers and sisters, and doing the right thing in each circumstance whether little or big.

The most important thing is to know the Truth, to live the Truth, and then let God do the rest.

SUMMARY

There are many forms of fear that can govern our life: good and helpful fears, or destructive fears, depending on our response to what is happening to us and the depth of our trust in God.

Some forms of Good or helpful fear are fear of the Lord, and a healthy fear of authority. Some fears that may be good or bad depending on the situation are cautiousness and conservativeness. Some forms of unhelpful fear are cowardice or timidity, and being over-anxious about the future.

Fear is good and helpful if it leads us to God and brings righteousness and justice into our lives. Fear is bad and unhelpful if it leads us to run from something we should face up to, or leads us to turn away from God.

As a Christian, we should approach fear with confidence, with boldness, with courage, with readiness to accept the plan of God for us, with wisdom from the Holy Spirit.

We should fight to maintain our Faith by focusing on the Lord’s promises, not on our feelings of fear. We must take a stand and fight to control our persistent fears by confronting them and doing something about them. We must always maintain a fear of the Lord and trust in Him to be there at our side in every situation.

Scripture Passages for Reflection:

Psalm 23. Psalm 27. Psalm 34. Psalm 91.
Luke 12:22-32 1 Peter 5:7 Deut. 31:6-8 Joshua 1:8-9
Isa 41:10 2 Tim 1:7 Eph 6:10-18 1 John 4:18

Discussion Starters

1. What insight in this talk touched you the most? Why?

2. What experiences have you had with these different kinds of fear? How did you handle them?

3. Which verses or promises in Scripture help you most when you are afraid?

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