Being blessed through fear

Know what you fear by the choices you make.

We know from experience that fear drives our choices and behaviour. Phobias make this plain to see. A fear of spiders makes some people scream and run away. A fear of the dark causes us to choose to walk down well lit streets.

We all have other fears which influence behaviour in less obvious ways. If I fear a lack of control, I will try to control everything around me. If I fear failure, I will strive for success in my exams, sport, music, work. If I fear missing out, I will try to enjoy what everybody else is enjoying. If I fear sickness and death, I will do all I can to avoid it.

I have all these individual fears, and more. We all do. Individual fears can also become collective, national fears.  Fear of Covid has taken such a grip that it now influences nearly every choice and decision we make about leaving home, which kind of transport to take, how we shop and who we visit. There is also a deep fear of shame, of being that person who catches and spreads the disease. The fear that my choice might lead to the death of someone else.

This kind of collective fear has increased anxiety, loneliness and redundancy. These fears have led to curse not a blessing.

Blessed are all who fear the LORD,
    who walk in obedience to him. (Psalm 128:1)

The psalm claims that when the fear of the Lord influences our behaviour, then blessings follow. How is this so?

Learn the fear of the LORD by knowing Jesus.

There are different ways that knowing Jesus gives a right fear of the LORD.

First, it is right to fear the LORD because he is just and will punish evil on the last day. Those who fear him will shun evil.

Second, it is right to fear the LORD because he has satisfied justice at the cross for all who turn to him. Those who trust in him will never be put to shame.

Third, it is right to fear the LORD because fearing anything or anyone above Him, leads to bad choices and away from blessing. Those who fear him will walk in his ways.

There are several ways that knowing Jesus takes away our fears.

First, our natural fear of being out of control is overcome because Christ surrendered control at the cross and still secured the outcome he had planned beforehand. Those who fear him will trust that what looks like chaos will fulfill the plans of the LORD.

Second, our natural fear of failure is overcome because the cross looks like failure but Christ was successful in achieving salvation for many. Those who fear him will gladly pick up their crosses, bear their responsibilities, endure the pain, because, without adding to what Christ achieved, it is the way of salvation.

Third, our natural fear of missing out is overcome because although the cross looks like Jesus was missing out on life, as he died a young man, He secured an eternity of love, joy and praise. Those who fear him know that the transient and short lived life is nothing in comparison to eternal glory.

Forth, our natural fear of death is overcome because Christ defeated the grave for us. Those who fear him will be fearful of the process of death, just as Christ feared the agony of the cross, but they won’t fear death itself.

The way these fears of the LORD combine changes behaviour and brings blessing. There is the blessing of reduced anxiety, loneliness and redundancy. Those who fear the LORD can always be active in his kingdom through prayer, devotion, study and fellowship.

Blessed are all who fear the LORD,
    who walk in obedience to him. (Psalm 128:1)

Blessed are ALL. This is a collective blessing. As each person is blessed by knowing Jesus and walking in his ways, the blessing becomes shared and spreads.

We can’t make this happen on our own. We need the help of the LORD to grow in knowledge and fear and so, the psalm ends with a prayer of blessing.

May the Lord bless you from Zion;
    may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
    all the days of your life.
May you live to see your children’s children –
    peace be on Israel.

About neilrobbie

I am a 6'6" formerly ginger Scot, in a cross cultural marriage to my lovely Londoner wife. We've lived in SE Asia and since 2005, I have served as an Anglican minister in Wolverhampton and West Bromwich.
This entry was posted in The Cross, The nature of grace, The nature of the giver. Bookmark the permalink.

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