Fear is a personal battle that I am determined to master. I would say overcome but this study has helped me to understand that fear isn’t something that can be overcome. Rather, it is something we must all understand and learn to navigate.
My greatest achievements were accomplished, not in the absence of fear, but because of it. Still, at every crossroad, I have to work harder than most to overcome the urge to act out of rational fear at the expense of the fear of God.
Standing alone, fear is neither good nor bad. It is simply the result of the human decision-making process. However, certain variables can turn functional (good) fear into dysfunctional (evil) fear.
Irrational fear is always dysfunctional. It is the type of fear that involves no contemplation of one’s perception. Since God created us to be intelligent beings, not thinking always leads to dysfunction. Still, there is a stage in every person’s life where thinking rationally is not possible. In infancy and early childhood, this holds true. So, fear has a maturity component to it.
Examples of irrational fear can be found in purse clinching at the sight of a black man, some police-involved shootings, and monsters under the bed or in the closet. These are fears where the individual acting hasn’t rationally thought about what they perceive and how or if they should respond.
This form of fear is often evident in certain hate, supremacy, and political groups.
It’s also prevalent in political propaganda. For example, citizens of certain countries are inspired to hate citizens of other nations based on fear mongering. Such as labeling an entire culture as terrorists, cannibals, rapists, or violent criminals.
With irrational fear, the victims of fear mongering don’t consider such things as the fact that all the people in their own culture do not share the same ideals and values, so why would any other culture?
Fear says nothing about rather or not the person had something to fear, but that they did not think rationally about it.
Think about it… Some women who clinch do get robbed, some officers who shoot do get killed, and sometimes there really is something or someone in the closet. These facts are irrelevant to the rationality of fear. Fear only has to do with what we do in any given situation and why we do it and it’s rationality only addresses rather or not rational thought is employed and acted upon.
The second type of fear is rational fear. When we perceive something, then rationally contemplate what we have perceived and how to respond, then act on it. This action is the end product of the rational fear process.
Rational fear begins developing during early childhood and continues to develop throughout our lives. It is mostly, if not solely, based on self-preservation. The term “self” is used loosely to also include loved ones.
Examples of this type of fear is a purse clincher who realizes what she’s done and thinks it through… “Hmm it’s the middle of the day, I’ve walked past 50 black men today, I walk here all the time and no one has ever snatched my purse, I have nothing of value in it that cannot be replaced… Okay, I will not clinch my purse. ”
A police officer might consider “The individual is following all instructions, he or she appears to be going to work, there are kids in the car, I’ve stopped 50 people today and none shot me. I will not aim my firearm at his or her head. ”
A person who thinks theirs a monster might consider “Monsters are not real, my house is locked and secured, the alarm would have gone off if there was an intruder. If I grab a bat and go look, I can get some sleep. Okay… I’ll go look. ”
These are rational fear processes that usually result in rational and reasonable fear responses. Sometimes, however, it is rational for a woman to clinch her purse if she’s experienced purse snatching. And it would be rational for a police officer to shoot an unarmed person if he was recently shot at by a suspect whom he did not view as a threat. It would also be reasonable for a person to think there was something in the closet if in the past there actually had been.
Both irrational and rational fear are natural at certain stages in our personal and spiritual development.
The Fear of God
The fear of God isn’t really a 3rd type of fear. Rather, it’s rational fear in consideration of Yahuah’s Word. So, while contemplating, we would take into consideration what God says about the matter than act according to what He says.
For example, a Christian purse clincher might consider that we are commanded not to judge and that if someone steals from us we should offer them more, to love our neighbors, and not treasure material things. In doing so, her action in fear of God would be not to clinch the purse.
The Bible-believing police officer would consider the commandments thou shalt not kill, be willing to lay down your life for your brother, and turn the other cheek and would be unable to pull the trigger.
The girl with the monster would consider all the times Yah says fear not, she would remember that some demons require fasting and prayer, and she might consider the courage demonstrated by Yahusha in the face of many monsters and get some courage of her own.
And when we prepare dinner we would consider all the food Yah forbade and why. We would not eat those foods despite how tasty or cheap we think they are.
The fear of God simply means that we consider what God says about a matter and act in compliance with His word despite what the situation looks like. Interestingly, this is also a more functional definition of faith, although faith is a bit more foundational since it is the reason we consider God’s word in the functional process of fear in the first place.
Mastering the fear of God is the highest level of personal or spiritual maturity. Practicing the fear of God is always evidence of maturity, but as with the other two levels, we don’t simply graduate to perfection in one try. Rather, we are ever growing in spiritual maturity at this level. Better than our irrational and rational phase, although we are still being perfected.
Sometimes fear isn’t as easy to spot as in the examples above. However, it is present in every single decision we make all day, every day. Every time we make a choice there is a fear factor – not the western defined emotional fear, but the Hebraic defined action that is the resulting choice of one’s decision-making process.
When choosing what we’ll eat for dinner, fear is present.”Rice or pasta?” What are some thoughts that come to mind that could help you decide? I answer questions such as when was the last time I had it? Which is a healthier choice? Which goes best with the rest of the meal?
In the process, (1) we perceive the need to eat and feed our family and the options available to accomplish that, (2) contemplate the perception, (3) then act according to rational contemplation. The evidence of this process would be the meal we cook and eat. This evidence is the true meaning of the Hebrew word for fear. It is the visible evidence of one’s spiritual maturity. Particularly, it is the action that occurs at the end of the decision making process. You might call it “the fruit of the decision tree” or, simply, a final choice!
That being said, Yah is not done with me yet… I’m a work in progress!
So, my commitment to myself is to become more cognizant of my decisions and fear processes throughout each day. I will answer questions such as,
- What is my perception?
- Does it make sense?
- What does Yahuah say about it?
- How do I act according to what he says?
Then, rather than acting irrationally or godlessly rational, I will act rationally according to God’s Word and Wisdom. Perhaps if we practice it enough, obedience will become our new norm – because at the end of the day both faith and fear come down to obedience to Yah.
The Evidential Property of Fear
If faith is the evidence of things unseen (Hebrews 11:1), then fear is its twin. Fear is the literal, visible evidence of the unseen spiritual conditions of humankind rather good, bad, or something in between!
Fear is like blood on the hands. It could be that a person with blood on their hands is the murderer or someone who saved the life that the murderer tried to take. Either way, it is outward evidence of the inner man!
Touch the plus signs on the interactive tool below for more information about the concepts we’ve learned in these fear lessons!
To fear God is to live fearlessly!