Elbert Hubbard once said.: "The greatest mistake you can make is to be continually fearing you will make one." Do you live in constant fear, of making a mistake? Do you suppress great creative ideas because you are afraid they will fail? Then remember this: Many errors are serviceable, and some are even essential to ultimate success. In interviews, the first heroic climbers of Mt. Everest pointed out that the mountain couldn't have been scaled sooner because a certain number of mistakes had to be made before man could know enough to do it successfully. The mountain could never have been conquered if man had never attempted to climb it for fear of making mistakes.
The cause of fear
People are afraid of many things — the dark, the unknown, high places, other people, failure, bad breath, not making it into God's Kingdom. Our minds or bodies can't be at rest when fear is pumping adrenalin into our system signaling us to fight or flee. Most fears can be traced to spiritual problems, because the ultimate cause of fear is sin. We don't want to face God in prayer when we have sinned against Him. We don't want to face our parents when we have disobeyed them. We don't want to face the supervisor when we have failed to carry out our assigned responsibilities. Why are we afraid? Simple. Because we haven't done what we know we should. We have disobeyed, broken a law or rule, and the outcome is fear.
Paralyzed by fear
I received a letter from a young man who has great fears. Revealing his name is not important, but what he said can help us understand what fear can do to us spiritually. He wrote: "I have been a member of God's Church for nine years now, and in that time more problems have come my way than I thought possible. The last 2 years have been especially rough. If anything could go wrong, it has. "After graduating from engineering school... I was just learning God's truth and that God had a college — a college where we could learn more about His ways and truth. This was more important than graduate school. "The most important day of my life was the day I was baptized. The second was when I was accepted to attend Ambassador College. The college called me, saying I was to be in the first class starting that fall, and that I would be an asset to the work and could help in other church programs. "The next day, after the phone call. I rejected this opportunity be cause of fear." Several years later, this young man came to Pasadena and talked to a college administrator about reapplying to Ambassador College. "Again, I was fearful and talked to [a minister] about this fear. He asked me to stay and attend college, the local minister asked me to stay and another of God's ministers asked me to stay. But I came home. Then everything unraveled. "The day before Trumpets, I called God's local minister and wanted to give up. He said to let God run my life His way and stop running it my way. "A few days after repenting, the same brethren asked me to come back to Pasadena and to try again for Ambassador College. "But I am still fearful."
The power to overcome
It is God's Holy Spirit that enables us to serve God, and by its power we can overcome fear and weakness. Notice: "God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (II Timothy 1:7). The word fear in this verse means "timidity, cowardice." The Holy Spirit gives us power for fulfilling the end-time witness — supporting Past or General Herbert W. Armstrong as he proclaims the Gospel worldwide. Remember our commission in Matthew 24:14. It is futile for us to try to serve God without the power of the Holy Spirit. Talent, training and experience cannot take the place of the power of God's Spirit. The Holy Spirit also gives us love (Galatians 5:22-23). If we have love for God's people and those who don't understand God's ways, even for our enemies, we will not fear to endure suffering to accomplish the work of God. Selfishness, the opposite of love for others, leads to fear, because if we are selfish, we are interested only in what we will get out of serving and obeying God, and we will be afraid of losing our dignity, power or money. True Christian love, energized by God's Holy Spirit, enables us to sacrifice for others and not be afraid (Romans 5:5). God's Holy Spirit also gives self-control — a sound mind. This word is related to the words sober, sober minded and sobriety in many of the apostle Paul's letters (Titus 1:8, 2:2, 6, 12; I Timothy 2:15). "Self-discipline" is a better translation of "sound mind." It describes men and women who are sensible-minded and balanced, who have their lives under control. The Amplified Bible reads a "calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control" (II Timothy 1:7). We should be thankful daily to God for these qualities of His Holy Spirit.
Stir up God's Spirit
Paul, facing certain death, as a prisoner in Rome wrote to Timothy an exhortation that applies to each of us. Paul's words are encouraging to any who have fears from time to time. Timothy did not need any new spiritual ingredients in his life; all he had to do was "stir up" what he already had. Paul had written and urged in his first letter, "Neglect not the gift that is in thee" (I Timothy 4:14). Now Paul added with emphasis, "Stir up [stir into flame] the gift of God" (II Timothy 1:6). As long as we are still striving to overcome, the Holy Spirit does not leave us when we stumble or fall short of what God wants. Christ promised: "If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever" (John 14:15-16). But God cannot fill us with His Spirit — empower us with courage and love and use us — if we neglect our spiritual lives. That is why prayer and Bible study are so important. They are fuel to help "stir up" the Holy Spirit. It is also possible to grieve the Holy Spirit. Study Ephesians 4 and then ask, "Am I grieving the Holy Spirit?" We must examine ourselves daily and pray without ceasing so that we do not quench the Spirit (I Thessalonians 5:19). John was inspired to write: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love" (I John 4:18). Fear is not one of the fruits of the Spirit. Ask God for His perfect love and rid yourself of fear!