“Do you believe in God?” The reports shortly after the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999 tell us that two girls stood before the killers and were asked this familiar question. Surrounding them were the violent cries of the wounded, the smell of gunsmoke, and the blood of friends. Evidently infused with divine courage, Cassie Bernall and Rachel Scott affirmed their belief and were fatally shot down.
I’m not sure what darted through their minds in those moments, but Philippians 1:21 sounded in mine when hearing the news: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Whether they recalled those words or not, they were definitely real.
Fear has a way of proving our values. It brings out the strongest convictions from our deepest meditations. It is a self-protecting mechanism, very natural and useful for living. When danger arises, fear kicks in and harm is avoided.
We can be thankful to God for fear.
On the other hand, when it is misdirected, fear can be an obstacle of the worse kind. Timothy, for instance, allowed misdirected fear to throw his spiritual gift into disuse (2 Tim. 1:6-7).
Misdirected fear leads us to sin. It happens when our meditations wander into spiritual forgetfulness. And since our minds are constantly exercising thoughts that strengthen moral standards and world views, it is important to equip them with the proper information.
Logically, knowledge and understanding fuel our fear in one direction or another. This is why Jesus informed His disciples with truth when urging them not to fear their persecutors:
“Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matt. 10:28)
Jesus informed them to have a proper perspective on the power of man and God. Man can kill the body, but God can destroy the body and the soul for all eternity. This information, when it is believed, will form conviction and subsequently courage. So then, properly directed fear—towards God and not man—will infuse boldness, particularly in ministry, to suffer the harm that misdirected fear would avoid.
When knowledge is properly learned, fear is properly directed.
Solomon understood this. Time and again, he wrote proverbial truths that knowledge, understanding, and wisdom find their root in the fear of the Lord. Consider Proverbs 9:10: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Prov. 9:10).
The Bible’s truth is so deep we will never reach its end and so rich that we will never need anything else. It has all we need in order to properly inform ourselves and properly direct our fears.
Remember, our values are most evident when we are most afraid. If you inform your values with Scripture, Christ will shine through as your most valuable treasure.