Have you ever considered fear’s influence on your decisions and interactions with others? Many years ago, I let a few words slip out about a friend, stupid and impulsive words. They weren’t gossip, but they were the kind that I didn’t want her to know about. I tried to make things right without actually telling my friend what I’d said. But every time I saw her, guilt gnawed at me. I lived in fear of, “What if she finds out?” This fear impacted my interactions with her.
Do you remember Joseph’s brothers mentioned in last week’s post?
In Genesis 42, we read about Jacob’s family and how they needed food in the middle of one of the worst famines of their time. His ten oldest sons traveled to Egypt to purchase grain. While there, an Egyptian official took a keen interest in them. They admitted they had two other brothers, one who was “no more” and one who wasn’t permitted to leave their father’s side.
This official labeled them as spies, though the ten men assured him they were not. He declared if they wanted more food, they must bring their youngest brother.
In time, the brothers returned to Egypt for more food. They tried to toe the line, bringing money, a generous gift, and Benjamin, their youngest brother.
Though the brothers took all the right steps, fear’s influence ruled them. The wrongs they’d committed by selling their brother Joseph into slavery haunted them.
They were plagued by the fear that maybe the way this man treated them was God’s punishment for that long-ago decision.
Fear’s Influence on Our Hearts and Minds
Fear of being found out does that. We can attempt to move on, to do everything right beyond the point of our bad choice. But that shaming voice whispers in our hearts we did wrong. It’s too horrible to admit out loud. It’s better to hide the shameful act than own it.
Until we come to terms with our wrong actions—until we face and acknowledge them to God and make things right with the person we’ve wronged—we’ll live in fear of being found out.
As the brothers neared Egypt, their thoughts seemed to center on the worst-case possibilities. All they saw was the probability of punishment for past sins.
But God . . .
Where the brothers feared judgment, God planned a beautiful reunion. As Joseph revealed his identity to his brothers, he reminded them God had sent him to Egypt to provide for their family.
Fear persuades us to view God through an inaccurate lens, just as Joseph’s brothers did. They considered Him a Punisher rather than One who loved and desired freedom for them.
What is the Basis of Our Fear?
Is our fear based on the possibility of being found out? If we’ve done something that must be rectified, shame tries to keep us quiet.
Is fear’s influence distorting our perspective? When we’re afraid, fear’s lies often skew our thought processes, our perceptions of our situations, and our beliefs about our Father. A poisonous relationship grows between fear and shame when we try to hide our actions. Shame and fear skew our relationship with and our beliefs about God.When we’re afraid, fear’s lies often skew our thought processes, our perceptions of our situations, and our beliefs about our Father #tellhisstory #dealingwithfear Click To Tweet
How Do We Free Ourselves from Fear’s Influence?
- Often, we must choose humility and own our wrong actions. We need God’s perspective on what we’ve done. A humble heart enables us to gain an accurate understanding of the impact of our words and actions.
- We must confess what we’ve done. Our hearts find freedom from shame when we confess our wrongs. Yes, this can be hard. The other person’s opinion of us may be altered. That change may lead to greater respect. Or, it may sever a relationship. When we’ve done what’s right in God’s eyes, He honors this, regardless of the other person’s response.
- We must make things right. Whether it’s apologizing, recompensing an item taken, or doing something else, we need to do all that is in our power to be at peace with all men. Then, we trust God to do the reconciling, healing work in us and in those who’ve been affected.
- Perhaps most importantly, we evaluate our perception of God. If we view God as manipulative rather than as a loving Father, we need to talk with Him about that. Disappointment, unmet expectations, pain, illness, and other circumstances can all lure us into a place of not believing God is good and has good plans for us.
One guaranteed way fear loses its grip in our thoughts and hearts is for us to choose to trust God. God works in multi-faceted ways, often in ways we never foresaw or expected.One guaranteed way fear loses its grip in our thoughts and hearts is for us to choose to trust God #tellhisstory #dealingwithfear Click To Tweet
Facing My Fear
After a few weeks of trying to ignore the conviction God’s Spirit pressed on my heart, I knew I had to talk with my friend. Hanging my head, I confessed what I’d done. I was so afraid of her censure. After a pause, she said, “I forgive you.” And the shame dropped away.
She chose to continue to trust me with her friendship. Not the shallow, keep-your-distance kind, but genuine relationship.
And that night, fear lost its hold on my heart.
What about you? When have you dealt with fear because of something you’d done? How has God helped you overcome fear?
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