Fear God, not man
“So HAVE NO FEAR of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And DO NOT FEAR those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather FEAR HIM who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. FEAR NOT, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges Me before men, I also will acknowledge before My Father who is in Heaven, but whoever denies Me before men, I also will deny before My Father who is in Heaven.” (Matthew 10:26–33).
“I tell you, my friends, DO NOT FEAR those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: FEAR HIM who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, FEAR HIM! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. FEAR NOT; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:4–7).
Have you ever found yourself being threatened, either physically or emotionally? Were you scared? Were you in fear of being harmed or maybe even losing your life? I’m reminded of a woman I once met. She was the victim of domestic violence that had persisted for years. Her husband was both verbally and physically abusive to her. You could see the pain, sorrow, and fear deep within her eyes – sunken and dull. But one thing stuck out to me most of all; she still had her faith in God. She hoped for deliverance from her suffering, but didn’t know when her prayers would be favorably answered. How could this woman be so optimistic in her situation? She knew that God loved her. She didn’t blame God for her suffering, she just didn’t know how to get out of her situation. She feared what her husband would do to her, but she feared the Lord more. I was honored to be able to help her get out of that toxic place.
Jesus warned His disciples that they would be persecuted and killed for their belief in Him. Not all believers will be persecuted or killed for their faith, but many have and will be. There are Christians around the world being persecuted for their faith as you read this. The devil has convinced this world to hate God, to hate Jesus, and to hate all that is good and right. The devil is a masterful liar. Jesus reassured His disciples by reminding them whom they should fear: not someone who could kill them, but rather to fear God. Losing your earthly life is NOT the ultimate loss, but losing your eternal life is. Jesus tells us that death should not be avoided at all costs. In fact, none of us are getting out of this life alive. We may not know when or how we will die, but because of the curse of sin, we have to die. However, the good news of Jesus Christ’s redemption of us is that we don’t have to die for all eternity!
Fearing the Lord our God is not the same type of fear as fearing a captor or an attacker. Fear of the Lord is a healthy, immense, profound respect toward God our Creator. He didn’t just create us; He loves us unconditionally too. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:16–17). Jesus called his disciples (and us) to proclaim His good news to all peoples of the earth. We are not supposed to get so absorbed into this world that we lose sight of Jesus Christ; we are supposed to live out His calling every day. “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36).
As the children’s Sunday School song goes: “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. … Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m gonna let it shine.” Jesus did not claim us as a member of His Heavenly family for us to hide our faith in Him. Jesus claimed us and told us to go out and spread His good news to all. He didn’t sacrifice Himself for a select group of people, He died and conquered the grave for everyone that believes in Him! “I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.” (Psalm 104:33).