Jeremiah
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Misplaced Fear: Startled by a “Boo!” when God lives in you.

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“Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.” ~ Jeremiah 1:17

In Jeremiah 1:8 God instructed Jeremiah not to be afraid of the people to whom God was sending him. Then, in a subtle change of emphasis, God instructed Jeremiah, in vs. 17, not to be dismayed; that is, not to lose courage because of fear. In other words, in vs. 17, God was telling Jeremiah that even if he does fear he MUST still go ahead with the mission.

God then underlined the seriousness of His command, by warning Jeremiah that he would be in danger of being confounded if he became dismayed. In this passage, the word “confound” means to cause shattering (breaking into pieces). The image is of a clay water pot that because of cracks had become unable to carry water from the well to the home. It was now useless and might as well be smashed into pieces. So, the warning to Jeremiah was that if he would not do the job (because he was “cracked” with fear), God would publicly get rid of him: end his ministry.

The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe. ~ Proverbs 29:25

This for many of us seems/feels harsh. Why does God take such a hard line on the issue of misplaced fear: the fear of man? To answer this question, let us examine three ways in which misplaced fear affects the work of the believer in the Kingdom of God. Fear of man (a) Dishonors God, (b) Distorts God’s Message and (c) Disables the Believer.

Fear of Man Dishonors God

To fear what man can do to us more than what God can do to us is to make the creature superior to The Creator. To fear man is to believe that God has lost control of a piece of His universe. To fear man is to assume that God is powerless to intervene to protect His messengers.

“Give unto the LORD, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name… O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.” (Psalm 96:7-9)

To fear man is to imagine that men can stop God from executing His plans. To fear man is to dishonor the Almighty God by considering Him to be so impotent, so unable, so clueless as to be at the mercy of mere man. But let us not dishonor God, let us give Him ALL glory and Honor and fear Him only!

O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens… When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?… O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! ~ Psalm 8:1, 3-4, 9

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. ~ Revelation 4:11

Instead of fearing man, let us fear God. Let us acknowledge His omnipotence, His absolute righteousness and His complete authority in contrast to our abject weakness, sinfulness and inferiority. Unlike the fear of man, the fear of God draws us to Him because it shows us we can’t “live” without Him.

Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. ~ Psalm 112:1

Fear of Man Distorts God’s Message

Simply put, if a messenger fears the receiver of his message then he will likely be tempted to alter/soften the message to escape the wrath of the receiver.

Galatians 2:11-21, tells us of how Paul had to confront Peter for his duplicitous behavior. Peter had lived (rightly) with the gentile Christians without observing the Jewish laws. However, when a group of Christian Jews came to visit him, he withdrew himself from the gentile Believers and begun to observe the Jewish laws, because he feared the (criticism of the) Christian Jews.

For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him… ~ Galatians 2:12-13

Peter’s fear-based actions distorted/twisted the message of the Gospel and caused much confusion among believers—especially the gentile believers, some of whom started to believe that Salvation came by the Law and not only by Grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). Thankfully, Peter accepted God’s correction, delivered through Paul, (2 Peter 3:15; 1 Peter 1:9-10). And God continued to bless Peter’s ministry: using him mightily in the establishment of the church.

“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)

Likewise, if we fail to heed God’s warning, we will end up like Peter: not faithfully representing to our communities the character of God, the truth of His Gospel and the power of His Grace. As Peter’s story shows, God IS merciful. If we do succumb to misplaced fear, He will still use us if we correct our ways by unshackling the yoke of misplaced fear from our lives.  When we recognize fearfulness in our lives, it does not have to be an end. Instead, it can be the beginning, or even a renewal, of a life of service in the Kingdom of God.

However, as long as we remain encumbered by fear, we will continue distorting God’s message to a world that desperately needs the truth. Therefore, to preserve the fidelity of His message to the lost, God must remove His endorsement (NOT His salvation) from our ministry.

To be clear, there are many who claim to serve God, claim His blessing on their work, and claim to prophesy in God’s name. However, man’s claims are not God’s stamps of approval. Anyone can claim to be serving God, while living in disobedience instead.

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. ~ Matthew 7:21-23

Let us not try to serve God on our own terms. Rather let us serve God on His terms allowing His truth to speak through our lives without distortion from our fears.

Fear of Man Disables the Believer

Faith can overcome fear, but fear can also overcome faith. We all have misplaced fear and God’s intent is to overcome that fear in us by growing our faith. However, faith is governed by the “use it or lose it” principle.

Metallurgists use a technique called “work hardening” to make metals stronger. After smelting/annealing, the metal is hammered, stretched and formed into the desired shape. As the metal is worked it gets stronger, able to bear greater stresses. Conversely, when a metal that has not been work-hardened is stressed it actually gets weaker (plastic deformation) as the load gets heavier.

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope” (Romans 5:3-4)

Similarly, as we work (exercise) our faith it also gets more resilient, just like the metal. Therefore, by the grace of God, we can stand strong under the pressures of life. However, if, because of fear, we do not work our faith, then, just like the un-worked metal, our un-worked faith grows weaker when burdened by the pressures of life.

Jesus taught this principle in The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). On his return, the master blessed the servants who had exercised their faith. Indeed, bigger, heavier responsibilities (more opportunity to serve) were given to them. However, the servant who failed to exercise his faith lost everything.
Scripture goes on to tell us:

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. ~ James 1:3-4

In other words, if fear of man prevents/obstructs the trying (the working) of our faith, then we will never obtain the abundant life (John 10:10) where we are complete with everything we need to be effective, victorious servants in The Kingdom of God. When the fear of man shackles our faith, instead of being diligent Believers, we become disabled Believers.

Let us not allow misplaced fear to get in the way of exercising/working our faith. Let us overcome fear with a faith strengthened by work.

Final thoughts: God IS in Control

In Jeremiah 1: 8 & 17, God told the prophet not to be “afraid/dismayed of their faces”. In other words, the people only LOOKED frightening: there was no substance to their rantings. They could look as threatening as they wanted to, but they could do nothing without God’s permission, because He was (and still is!) in control.

The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? ~ Psalm 118:6

Likewise, we must always be aware that things may seem far more frightening than they are when we “look” at them with our own human “eyes”. To gain the true perspective, to see things as they really are, we must look at them through God’s eyes, from a Heavenly perspective. When we acknowledge, by faith, that God is in control of the universe and everything in it, then we can begin to see that there is nothing for the Believer to fear at all.

When Elisha’s servant saw that they were surrounded by the Syrian Army (2 Kings 6:13-17), he became fearful. Then, Elisha prayed and asked God to open his servant’s eyes. And, when his eyes were opened, Elisha’s servant saw “the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha”. From a purely human perspective, the Syrian army looked powerful, but in reality God was in CONTROL! The Syrian army was actually POWERLESS!

“And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.” (Matthew 8:26)

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. ~ Matthew 10:29-31

Not even a sparrow falls without God’s permission! Therefore, we can be confident that nothing can happen to us without God’s direct involvement.

Now, we know that God sometimes permits trouble to come our way, but that does not mean He is not in control. When satan complained that God had ‘unfairly’ protected Job (Job 1:10), God gave satan permission to afflict Job. Job then suffered much, losing almost everything he had, some loses coming from the actions of evil men (Job 1-2). But NOTHING happened without God’s permission, because God was in control.

Whatever the situation,
Whether pleasant or grim,
We are safe in our Lord’s strong hands,
Safe when we walk with Him

God is love (1 John 4:8) and every act of God in the life of a Believer is to bring about His perfect purpose because of His love for us.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. ~ Romans 8:28

Let us all start living lives without a misplaced fear of man, with a deeply reverent fear of God and a commitment to serve in His Kingdom as messengers of His truth.

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4 Comments

  1. Desiray says

    I enjoyed your site and the scripture verses you give along. God bless you have a lovely day today

  2. Pingback: Misplaced Fear: Startled by a “Boo!” when God lives in you. « ChristianStumblers Beta

  3. Pingback: Misplaced Fear: Startled by a “Boo!” when God lives in You — Snippet | Reflections in the WORD

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