May 21, 2023
Dr. Paul Cannings
Fear is a powerful emotion. The fear experienced when someone believes God will not come through or fix a situation is not the same fear that paralyzes someone shocked at the sight of an oncoming train while crossing a railroad track or someone immobilized by a burglar. This fear is ongoing; it keeps believers from growing in their faith. Fear can prevent believers from making decisions that allow them to be vulnerable or experience challenges beyond their comfort zones. Someone once said, “Fear is the only thing that multiplies faster than rabbits.”
The Apostle Paul took on every challenge, aggressively went out into the unknown, and faithfully served Christ. Paul even said that though he was the least of the apostles, the one unusually born, he worked harder than all of them (1 Cor 15:9-11; 2 Cor. 11:5; 12:11). Paul worked hard and suffered much for the progress of the gospel. He says this in 2 Corinthians 4:7-12; “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.” At times Paul seems fearless; “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek….. (Romans 1:16-17) He seems willing to take on any challenge.
However, it is Paul who says, “And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.” (1 Corinthians 2:3). Paul was not fearless; Paul made a decision to fear God more than he would fear man. “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10).
A writer once said, “If you’re not afraid to face the music, you may someday lead the band.” Paul’s life demonstrated courage because he feared the composer more than the music, so he ended his ministry leading the band under the direction of the composer. I am not sure what your fears may be, but whatever they are, let them be controlled by a reverent fear of God (1 Peter 1:17). It is better to trust God and suffer than to suffer for not trusting God. “The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.” (Proverb 29:25)