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Christian Counseling - Good Fear, Bad Fear

Fear is a universal emotion and necessary for survival. We don't blindly cross a street without looking because we are afraid of being struck by a car. After the flood, God put the fear of people in animals, who previously knew no such fear (Genesis 9:2. I believe this was to preserve the animals from again being corrupted by people or becoming extinct). Good fear is essential in an evil world. But there is also an unreasonable and wrong kind of fear--when people fear others to such a degree they lose their integrity and their moral compass spins out of control.

Many people learn to be afraid of others' power who use it to intimidate through such things as: anger, rejection, withholding love or money...you name it. Almost anything can be used to bring people to say and do things they thought they would never say or do. Saul lost his position of being King of Israel because, "'...I was afraid of the people, so I gave in to them"' (I Samuel 15:24). His fear led to disobedience. We all are tempted to give in to others in a moment of weakness, or to keep the peace by avoiding conflict. Sometimes people fool themselves in thinking that peace will always cause the wicked to yield or that peace is never achieved by way of a righteous fight. Too a large degree, assertiveness has been abandoned by Christians and replaced by fear.

It is not difficult for others to figure out what form of manipulation they need to employ that will result in a person's folding and following their lead. It is not difficult to see some of the consequences of such action--lower self-esteem, poor self-image, relationships without boundaries, stuffing feelings, difficulty in forgiving others, unresolved and internalized anger (which significantly increases heart disease)...shall I continue? One other consequence is displeasing God by giving in to the temptation of apostasy. It happens when people violate faith and conscience because they are too afraid to do what they know is right.

Fear is also a trap. Proverbs 29:25 says the "Fear of man will prove to be a snare" (in the Greek snare refers to a noose used to catch animals). God says to Isaiah (35:4), "say to those with fearful hearts, 'be strong, do not fear.'" God's message is "be courageous." Acting courageously in spite of fearful feelings helps a person overcome them through learned confidence, which reduces the strength of fear. Remember, courage is lost in doubt and indecision. But courage is found in one's faith or believing that doing the right thing will bring about something good, either now or later. It is the practice of courage that defeats fear. And also know that God is always with you.

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