The Fearful Advantage
“And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.” Acts 18:9-10
When we think of the Apostle Paul, most of us think of him as this perfect man who loved Jesus and constantly served as an example of the type of Christian we should be. He spent so many of his days being bold, authoritative and Spirit-filled that sometimes it is easy to forget that he was a human that struggled with human emotions just like we do, including fear. Fear is one of those emotions that can come in our lives and grip us to the point of immobility. So the question is, what do we do with it when it comes? You see, fear can do one of two things when present in our lives. It can either paralyze us or it can propel us. It can keep us from our purpose, or it can thrusts us right into it. You see, most of us know what fear does to us, so today I want to talk about what fear can do for us. I want to talk about how we can take this common emotion, that wages war against all of us at some point, and allow it to work for us and not against us. So, here are three practical ways we can use fear to our advantage when it appears in our lives.
1. Allow fear to place us in a position to be ministered to.
Paul was having crazy success in the city of Corinth. People were getting saved left and right and God was moving powerfully. So, on the surface Paul seemed to have no reason to fear and definitely showed no evidence of it, and yet God knew the truth. You see, God knew the fear and inner turmoil of Paul, despite what was shown on the outside and it allowed an opportunity for God to come in and minister to Paul. You know, it’s crazy to think that this man, who often looked like the epitome of confidence, could still, when left to himself, lie down in bed at night and be overcome by that binding emotion of fear. He was human and still needed the God of peace, hope and love to come in and comfort him. God saw past all the success and boldness and in that moment knew exactly what His child needed; the comfort and assurance of his Daddy. He knew his fear could paralyze him, make him feel like he was alone and make him feel vulnerable. So, in his fear God met him and reminded him of His promises, His presence and His protection.
Most of the time our fear makes us run from God and the purpose He has for us. But what if we allowed it to make us run towards God. We have to allow our fear to put us in a place to be ministered to, believing that God knows exactly what we need to hear in order to encourage us to go just a little bit further. After God ministered to Paul in that dream, he got the courage to stay and spread the Gospel in Corinth for a year and a half longer. It was just what he needed. You see, God is not threatened by our fear, nor is He shaming us for having it. He is just waiting for us to bring it to Him so He can lovingly help to alleviate it. So friends, we have to begin to let fear push us to His presence, so that He can propel us to our purpose.
2. Allow fear to make us fully rely on God in our weakness.
Paul was speaking with authority and power in Corinth and lives were being changed because of it, and yet he did all this while internally being filled with fear. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, though Paul was afraid, he ministered anyway. How? By fully relying on the power of God.
“And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” 1 Cor. 2:3-5
Paul’s fear left him in a place where he had to fully rely on God’s power to complete his mission. The only way this happens in a person’s life is if, in their fear, they step out on faith and move any way. You see, in Paul’s dream God told him to, “go on speaking, and do not be silent”. He encouraged him to keep doing what He was called to do and have faith that God would keep up His end of the bargain. He went in God’s power and not his own. You see, moving forward in action, despite our fear, allows us to walk in one of the characteristics that God values most; faith. We need to see our fear as an opportunity to exercise great faith, trusting that God will powerfully accomplish everything He wants to accomplish through it. In other words, when fear screams, “Stop!”…Go anyway, believing that fear can’t speak to what God has already spoken!
3. Allow fear to remind us of who we are and who we aren’t
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and discipline.” 2 Tim 1:7
Friends, if a spirit of fear has not been given to us by God, then the only way we have it is if we have chosen to take it from the enemy. And if we’ve chosen to take it, then we can choose to give it right back. I mean, what if we made fear our trigger? Meaning that we learned to recognize it, and at the very sight of it, began to fight back at it with the greatest weapon we have access to; the Word of God. We need to memorize this verse and allow fear to instantly remind us of it, so that we can begin to walk in its truth. Allow fear to remind us that according to the Word of God it does not belong to us. We need to allow fear to remind us that the only Spirit we have been given is one that walks in the same achieving power that raised Jesus from the dead. The only Spirit that resides in us, is a Spirit of unconditional love that doesn’t get paralyzed in fear, simply because it is not consumed with the preservation of self over others. You see, the Spirit we have been given is not one of erratic fear, but one that is disciplined and properly prioritized.
Friends, these are the characteristics of the Spirit that actively resides in us. And fear is sent to distract us from the truth of it. We are powerful, loving and disciplined. Not weak, self-preserving and erratic, which are all characteristics of fear. We have to remember that we don’t have to be victims to fear, but are called to be victors of it, in Jesus Christ. So, let’s begin to use fear to our advantage. When it rears its ugly head in our lives, let’s make it our driving force to run to His presence, move in His power, and be who He created us to be. Let’s refuse to be paralyzed by fear, but instead be propelled by it, just like Paul was. Friends, we all know that fear is coming, so when it does, let’s be ready.
Questions to Journal Through
- When is the last time you let fear drive you to God’s presence and push you towards your purpose? Commit to consistently spending some time being honest about your fear before the Lord, and allow Him to minister to you through it.
- What are some specific steps you can take to step out on faith, even in your fear, and trust that the power of God will meet you? In other words, what would it look like for you to “Go Anyway!”
- Commit to memorizing and studying 2 Tim 1:7. The next time you are confronted with fear, use it to remind yourself of Gods truth and begin to speak it over yourself consistently, leaving no room for the lies of the Enemy.