There are many things to fear in a fallen, broken, and messed-up world. Nearly all of them are things that are beyond our control. These external forces can make us uncomfortable; if we are not careful, they can consume our emotional resources and leave us drained.
We also have internal fears that can drain us. “Did I say the wrong thing?” “Will I be able to measure up?” “Why do I succumb to the same trap that I’ve fallen into so many times?” Our internal dialog reveals that fear plays a large role in how we respond to the world around us.
So what is the antidote? Is it possible to live without fear?
This morning in my Bible reading, I read this:
“Teach me your way, Lord, and I will live by your truth. Give me an undivided mind to fear your name.”Psalm 86:11, CSB
I find this to be a beautiful prayer and a way of dealing with fear.
As we read Scripture and encounter what God reveals to us about himself and about how we should live, we can then have increasing confidence that we are responding to both God and our world correctly. Or, at least, we can see ourselves making progress toward responding correctly as we yield ourselves to God.
The psalmist shows us that when we are taught by God through Scripture, then we will know how to walk in God’s truth. As Christians, we also understand that we have the Holy Spirit who enables us to put into practice what we learn.
This morning I am encouraged by the last part of this prayer. I am encouraged to ask for an undivided mind so that I can fear God’s name. It seems to me that to live entirely without fear is not possible, and perhaps not even wise. The quest should not be to live without fear, but to fear the correct things and respond correctly to my situation.
As Christians, we know that we do not need to live in fear of God as if he is a cranky, vengeful deity just waiting for an excuse to blast us. That is not what it means to fear God’s name.
Reflecting on what it means to fear God’s name, I’ve concluded that I should want to be entirely focused on living my life in a way that will not profane God’s name. What I say and do should be influenced by what God reveals as the correct way to live.
Another verse I read this morning gives me a clue as to how to go about living this way:
“Indeed, this is our boast: The testimony of our conscience is that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you, with godly sincerity and purity, not by human wisdom but by God’s grace.”2 Corinthians 1:12, CSB
The word “sincerity” in this verse carries the idea of simplicity, purity, and uprightness. The idea is that there is no ulterior motive. The word translated as “purity” literally means tested by sunlight and carries the idea of being unmixed and pure.
So we are to be upright, pure, and without any mixed motives.
To live that way is a worthy goal.
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