Monday, October 6, 2014

Cares and Snares

Copyright William E. Kraski, October 2, 2014
My phone is an interesting device.  It's a smartphone and it's large enough to double as my tablet.  Yes, I'm kind of a geek.  I do have a great library at home. But I also have a netbook, a Kindle, and my smartphone, all set up to give me the best access that each is capable of to all the Biblical and social media stuff I need.  To the point where I could blog, preach, or counsel, even just using the library I can access from my phone.  

Part of that is my devotional life.  I have an Android device.  That's it, sitting on my John Maxwell Leadership Bible, in the picture to the left.  A swipe out page from my launcher has icons for apps I want to access even when I have another app open.  It also has two different Bible verse widgets.  As long as I've been using an Android device and those two widgets, they've never both shown the same verse on the same day.  And, although the two verses sometimes don't initially appear to go together, God always manages to bless me with the connections and it's a recent verse combination that prodded today's post.


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

Romans 12:12 (KJV)  Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

It almost seems like those two verses were meant to follow one another as one long sentence.  And the answer to some thoughts that crossed my mind.

Hananya Naftali recently shared a quote by Joseph Chilton Pearce on Google+.  It said, "To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.".  As a writer and blogger, I identified with the thought immediately.  But it struck me that it wasn't as a creative person.  What I was seeing in that statement was a reality of our everyday life and of our walk with God.  And that's not just me, not all the time, and not always so evident.

David Pollard, a fellow blogger, recently wrote a post about removing a tree at his home.  He compared the tree to sin, noting that, as it grew larger, the excuses for not dealing with it grew, as well.  It was a great post and you can find it here: http://bit.ly/1vuJgiz.  But the principle applies to the rest of our fears, too.

It's amazing how many areas of our lives fear inserts itself into.  Which makes fear a topic we need to understand.  I was originally going to add "and deal with it", but I realized that's not true.  We can see that when we note the number of verses that speak of fear.  I use the King James, so a different version might vary in the numbers.  But the realities won't change very much.  And it's an interesting picture.

The words "fear", "terror", and "afraid" show up a total of 603 times.  We have a way of suggesting that a subject is important to God when He talks about it more than once in His Word.  I think 603 times puts a bit of emphasis on this subject.

The military uses the term "shock and awe" for armament that may, as an indirect result, kill or harm some of the enemy, but its main function is to overwhelm the senses so much that the enemy is immobilized.  Our three words relate to God 152 times, 25% of the mentions.  We are to fear God. But not in the sense that there's no hope.  There's a sense of awe and reverence.  And there need to be moments of "shock and awe", where we have to stop everything because of our realization of the overwhelming greatness of God.  Pastor Jon Stallings discusses that very nicely, here: http://bit.ly/1tpSaeB.

The Word tells us "fear not" or "be not afraid" 88 times, about 15% of the total mentions of our three words.  And those are all because of the action or presence of God.  Which brings us to an amazing realization.  A total of 40% of what the Bible says about fear, terror, and being afraid either relates to a reverential awe of God or His dealing with things that would stymie us.  The rest come from several things.

  1. Ignoring God.  People don't believe there is a God.  Or we see some circumstances as luck, coincidence, or just too unimportant for any God to take an interest.  We don't think of God at all or don't see God as a God of details.
  2. Not trusting God.  Self orientation has us using ourselves as the standard for how life should go.  What we think we want has more reality in our minds than what God says is the way we should go.
  3. Blatantly going against God.  We admit there is a God, but make Him secondary to ourselves. Whether we say there is no God or we consciously rebel against Him, there are consequences.  Ones that we should fear.  There may be immediate, temporal results.  But there's the real possibility of eternal separation from God.
That's where our two starting verses come in.  Let's read them as one sentence.  "The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe, rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;...".  Whether that fear of man is others or ourselves, it puts us in a bad place.  But a relationship with God, trusting Him, changes that to something spectacular. We not only no longer fear man, we aim toward being a blessing to him, both in prayer and action.

1 John 4:18 (KJV)  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

The word for love, each time in this verse, is agape -- the perfect love that only God is capable of generating.  The next verse basically says we love Him that way because He loved us first.  And His action in us generates that love. John 13:34 quotes Jesus commanding us to love each other in that same way.  And Matthew 22:39 expands that to our social neighbor, not just fellow believers.  We can love God, each other, and mankind that doesn't yet love God.

Think back to what we said about David Pollard's comparison of the tree and sin.  As it grows larger, we begin to fear dealing with it.  No matter what we fear, we really are never the ones dealing with it. It's God's love, whether externally toward us or internally working in us, that takes away fear.  It removes the shock and awe from where it doesn't belong, so that fear doesn't immobilize us from moving forward with God.  Fear has us believing God wants to squash us like bugs.  God's love shows us He wants to be in close relationship with us, forever.

Have you let God's love develop your relationship with Him?  If not, you need to look into what that really means and take the steps necessary to seal you into that reality, with fear sealed out.  If you've already done that, like any other relationship, our end develops over time.  How are you developing that relationship, today?  How are you letting God's love rip fear from your life, today?

2 comments:

  1. Thanks Bill for the kind mention of my post. You did a great job on creating a compilation of posts to tie the two verses together. It is always wonderful to discover how God's Word is consistent in both the Old Testament and the New. It is true when it says that "God never changes." That fact should also give us comfort to not fear bu to trust in Him.

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  2. All three of the posts I mentioned brought God's full thought together for me. It wouldn't have been fair to my readers not to share the wisdom.

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