I watched a movie recently in which two employers conducted an experiment to see which was a greater motivator of performance: fear versus praise. One employer sought to motivate his staff by issuing strict deadlines and severe consequences for incomplete tasks, while the other used praise as a form of positive reinforcement. At the end of the day, the results showed that the employees who were “motivated” by fear produced much more work, though mistake-ridden. The group that was positively reinforced completed fewer tasks, but these were accurately done. I thought about this scenario as it relates to Fear and how many of us, like those employees, have been controlled and led by this spirit.
Here’s what the Bible says about Fear – “The Spirit God gave us does not make us afraid. His Spirit is a source of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7). What this means in simple terms is that Fear is not a part of our salvation package! So, if God did not give us this “spirit of Fear”, then it could only have come about from one other source – satan. And we know he opposes anything God represents. This got me thinking about the motive behind Fear or what the enemy hopes to accomplish by using this tool. Generally, when we experience Fear (not referring to actual phobias now) it leads to inaction or paralysis. Aside from the fight or flight response generated by our autonomic nervous system, our emotional response to Fear is often paralysis. It stops us in our tracks.
Now, since we know that Fear is from the devil and that its intent is to block, hinder, or prevent us from moving in a particular direction, we can safely argue that the direction we’re afraid of going in is in fact the direction that God is leading us. If satan opposes everything God represents, then it makes absolute sense that he would use Fear to prevent us from our God-ordained destinies. As I reflected on this in my quiet time, God gave me a new perspective on Fear and how to use it for good.
You see, when you understand the originator of Fear and its purpose, Fear becomes a great source of direction. Because we know that fear isn’t of God, we know that it’s not a tool God uses to direct our paths. Now, although we don’t take our directions from satan, we CAN use what he meant for evil, for good. Use Fear to guide you! Think about what is causing you the most fear (especially if you currently have a pending decision) and go in that direction! Fear paralyzes, but Faith propels! As much as Fear was the dominant motivating factor in the abovementioned story, nothing motivates us more than Faith in God. That trust, confidence, and reassurance that He has our best interests at heart and that ALL THINGS (negative and positive) are working together for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28). Because we know the consistency of God’s character, we can trust Him and move forward, even in times of Fear.
Faith is the stepping stone across Fear. When you step out in Faith and make the decision that causes you the most Fear, you will not lose! The man with one talent in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) failed to invest his talent because of Fear, and God called his inaction “wicked and slothful”. When we fail to move forward in Faith and choose rather to be paralyzed by Fear, we are ultimately joining forces with the enemy in not being active towards producing a harvest or return for the Kingdom of God. It is my renewed perspective and belief that, as Disciples of Christ, we cannot fail whenever we push against our Fears. FAITH IN GOD CAN NEVER FAIL and that is what we choose to exercise every time we push beyond the limits and boundaries of our Fears.
Know today that Fear is designed to send you in the direction that’s opposite from God’s will for your life. Learn to use Fear as direction (a navigation system) and Faith in God as your propeller!