While we often associate “love your neighbor” or the Golden Rule as the Bible’s most repeated advice, according to this author the commandment “Do not be afraid” appears more times from Genesis to Revelation.
As the author points out, God tells key figures like Moses, Joshua, Elijah and the prophets to “fear not” in the face of uncertainty, enemies, or their daunting missions. Jesus repeatedly urges his disciples and those he healed to “take heart” and stop being afraid as he demonstrates God’s power and compassion.
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
This command is essential because fear is debilitating in the spiritual life. When afraid, we lose trust in spirituality to help us. We second-guess our calling and hide our light under a bushel. Fear keeps us from fully living out our purposes and sharing love effectively. It hinders faith in action.
However, while this directive may be scripture’s most frequent, it’s not the easiest to follow. Telling our fearful selves to simply stop being afraid rarely works. Fear is an innate and evolutionary survival mechanism that kicks in automatically in the brain. Physiologically, it initiates the fight-or-flight response. Psychologically, it fixates the mind on perceived threats.
To truly “fear not” we need more than self-talk or bible study….
- We must learn to distinguish between those things that are within our control and those that are not.
- If we are anxious or fearful, it is deep down because we wish to control things that are not in our control