All my life I have craved approval. In elementary school, I wanted my friends to like me. In high school, I wanted the popular kids to accept me. In college, I wanted to be respected and liked. I was terrified that someone would think I was “strange”, so I kept my little quirks to myself. As an adult, I have grown more independent, but I still crave approval. I want people to think positive thoughts about me.
I can express some pretty strong opinions when I know I’m in the company of like-minded friends, but I clam up in embarrassment as soon as a dissenting opinion is expressed. Blogging has added a whole new dynamic to this fear of displeasing people. It’s fine and dandy to write strongly and boldly in front of my computer. It’s a completely different thing to put that writing out on the internet for all to see. When God has shown me something revolutionary, I am still tempted to keep it hidden so that no one thinks I’m “strange”.
A friend of mine posted a sermon from Francis Chan recently. Chan mentioned how he has often been tempted to water down a message from God so that people accept him. I confess that I feel the same about blogging and about having conversations with people who don’t know Jesus.
Chan chastised himself for being cowardly and quoted a passage from Revelation 21. God is speaking:
“To the thirsty, I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:6-8 ESV
The King James Version of the Bible translates “cowardly” and “faithless” as “fearful” and “unbelieving”. If my faith isn’t big enough, I cower in fear. If I do not believe that God will take care of me, I will not step out in faith and speak truth that might make me unpopular. This fear is not just a little sin that we can sweep under the rug. It is a big deal!
God listed the cowardly and the faithless at the top of a list that also mentions murderers!!
The New Testament writer, James, explained how faith that doesn’t act is worthless:
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe–and shudder!” James 2:14-19 ESV
Faith that doesn’t step out and obey God is empty.
Look a little closer at a verse in the Revelation passage again:
“The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.”
God really didn’t say WHAT was conquered. Maybe it’s sin, persecution, or imprisonment. Or maybe in my case, in this moment, I need to conquer fear. It sounds so trite and simplistic, but if my faith in God isn’t enough to conquer fear, then it’s not much of a faith.
First, I take my mustard-seed-sized faith and ask God to increase it.
Like the father whose demon-possessed son was healed by Jesus, I cry, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 19:24) I want that tiny seed to grow into a huge tree that crowds out my unbelief.
Then I look for promises to claim:
“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.” (Proverbs 29:25 ESV)
“The Lord is on my side: I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6 ESV)
Miss Clara said in War Room, “God is a good defense attorney.” If I just obey Him and speak what He wants me to speak, He will take care of the rest.
Finally, I need to find out what God is doing.
If Jesus only spoke what the Father spoke, then I need to listen closely and do the same. If Jesus only went where the Father led, then I need to listen for directions before I act.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” (Psalm 32:8)*
“…the LORD said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am only a youth”; for to all whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD.'” (Jeremiah 1:7-8 ESV)*
If I only write/speak/do what God wants me to, then I know He will take care of me. If I go off on my own tangent, then I’m on my own.
Jesus, please guide me in Your truth. Let me speak Your words. Please weed out the fear that would keep that mustard seed of faith from growing to its greatest potential. Protect me from the enemy who wants me to cower in fear. Give me the shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit (God’s Word), the belt of truth, the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, and the gospel of peace. Help me to stand firm in Your truth like a soldier. Protect me from the fear that would make me a deserter. Amen.
*The book, Fervent, by Priscilla Shirer, contains these verses and many more to help you in your prayer life.