“But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. ‘And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.’”
And do not be afraid of their threats,
Two important directives close this verse. The first is “do not be afraid of their threats.” “Do not let people intimidate you.” The second is “nor be troubled.” This is the disequilibrium of the person. Some people get off balance when trouble comes their way.
The Greek gives an implication that is hard to translate – “Do not fear their fear.” The word “threats” is the word “fear.” It is the fear that arouses terror – panic. This is the fear such as causes flight — dread, terror. This is emphatic expression conveys the idea of not letting people intimidate us. First, “fear” had the meaning of flight — flight caused by being scared. Then the word came to mean that which may cause flight — the intimidation of adversaries.
Isa 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
Isa 43:1, “But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine’.”
Ps 23:3, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
God wants us to put fear to flight.
What casts fear into your soul? You have the providential care of the Lord on your side (1 Pe. 3:13). We have promises of God’s presence (Heb. 13:5). Most of us fear things that might happen, but the future does not belong to us. We have no jurisdiction over tomorrow (Mt 6:34), so why should we fill our minds with anxiety?
Ps 53:5, “There they are in great fear
Where no fear was,
For God has scattered the bones of him who encamps against you;
You have put them to shame,
Because God has despised them.”
It is ridiculous to fear something that is not there. We are afraid of our own shadow. Why should we fear a shadow? That, however, is exactly what we do. We fear nonexistent things. We tell our children, “Don’t be afraid; I am here for you.” Nevertheless, the fear is real to them.
Some people fear old age. Nothing is more pitiful than a crotchety older person. They know they are close to death, and they are terrified of it. Pity them that have nothing to look forward to. The Christian is one day closer to being with the one he loves the most. He is one day closer to the open arms of Jesus. The best is yet ahead for the child of God.
Fear can ruin our outlook on life. We can become so disabled with fear that we will not venture into realms that we could. We thus live in a small orb entrapped by a world of our own making. We will ruin our lives if we permit fear to paralyze us from attempting feats beyond our confidence.
When we suffer for righteousness’ sake, God can uniquely use us to demonstrate the reality of Christianity in our lives. Why should a Christian cower in fear? God placed us on the stage of suffering for a purpose. One reason why God allows suffering is to demonstrate how sick our heart is. This is a fresh direction about suffering for righteousness’ sake – suffering is a high calling that reflects the reality of God in our lives.
Fear comes in many different sizes and lurks in unexpected places. There are many faces to fear. Small children fear very few things. They do not fear traffic, fire, or heights, so they get into trouble. Teens have many fears: they are afraid they will get caught. They are worried that their parents will find out. Fear stalks their paths all through high school. They are scared that they will not be popular. They are concerned that people will not like them. They are afraid that the right kind of people will not date them. When we move into young adulthood, different fears loom more extensive and more complicated. The longer we live, the more fears will become a reality unless we know who delivers from fear.