Faith vs. Fear
“I hereby command you: be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
Faith vs. Fear – sounds a little like a sports rivalry, doesn’t it? In fact, it may be the most important challenge we ever face in this life. Throughout the Biblical story, God continually calls his human creation to be something new and different in this world; to be a people who use their unique freedom to choose to follow God, trust God, obey God, and live their lives in the absolute certainty that God will care for them. Over and over, however, we have said “no” to that call. Adam and Eve chose not to follow God and live according to his call, but rather to be like God by gaining the knowledge of good and evil. The ancient Israelites, God’s chosen people, rejected having God as their sovereign and trusting solely in him, and asked for an earthly king, so they could be like other nations (1Samuel 8: 5-6.) Why? Because they were afraid – afraid that God wouldn’t always be there for them, afraid God wouldn’t always be faithful to his promises. Afraid to trust God – the God who made the declaration quoted above to Joshua on the eve of leading his people into the Promised Land.
Fear – not doubt – is the opposite of faith. Like a worm in an apple, fear eats away at our belief and trust in God and our willingness to follow His call. Our creator’s ultimate effort to bring his creation back to the life he designed for them was his incarnation in Jesus Christ. Jesus – true God and true man – lived the faithful life we each are called to. He made trusting in, believing in and following God the framework of his life, and compassion and forgiveness the standards of his behavior. While he certainly experienced doubt, he never allowed fear to overcome his faith. As Jesus told his disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. . . Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” (John 14: 1, 27) What a gift! God’s very peace bestowed on faithful followers.
Yet, fear still fights with our faith. Most of us do not tithe in our giving – that is, give ten percent or more of all that God has entrusted to us to support the work of his kingdom in this world. Why don’t we – especially considering that tithing was a standard established by God for his chosen people? (Leviticus 27:30; Deuteronomy 12:6) Because we don’t think it’s a good investment? No – Jesus told us the best investment we can make in this life is to “store up for ourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:20) Most likely, we don’t tithe in our giving because we’re afraid. Afraid that the resources God has entrusted to us will run out. Afraid that God will not be faithful to his promise of meeting our needs, even though it was Jesus himself who said, “your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6: 32-33)
Instead of allowing fear to overcome our faith, may we hear and respond to God’s call for faithful living in and with Him; and as we strengthen our faith, may we also increase our Fearless Generosity!