Where is the line between fear and faith? I have heard it said over and over the command given the most in Scripture is the command to “fear not”. Paul tells Timothy “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment”. We are called to walk by faith each and every step of our day. This is clear in Scripture.
These last few months, however, have shown us clearly we don’t always have a very clear definition of fear or faith. Over and over people have said they won’t live in fear. It seems many have their faith questioned for following the advice of health professionals. Where is the line between fear and faith? In this world it is not always clear.
Some call wearing a mask an act of fear, others say it is sound judgment, a gift Paul says God has given to us. There are many who don’t feel comfortable coming to church, going out to eat, or returning to school or other activities with crowds. We must be careful not to label those who feel this way fearful. It may not be fear at all. Maybe, for them it is from a spirit of wisdom, a spirit of sound judgment, a spirit of love for their family, a spirit of walking in the freedom of Christ to seek the good of their neighbor.
A meme or picture you saw on Facebook doesn’t dictate the truth and we should not seek to shame those who may choose to be more careful in this moment. They too may be walking by faith, not fear. The problem is we try to diagnose the heart and the state of faith of another person far too quickly. We don’t know if that person is operating out of fear or out of faith. We don’t know if they are simply executing sound judgment for themselves and their family. This is a time that calls for grace, not anger at someone or an accusation they are just listening to lies of the world.
Be patient with one another.
We have not been given a spirit of fear, that is true, but we have been given a spirit of love. How much of our discussion, the points we make on Facebook, the way we talk about others is marked by love? Anger is often a fruit of fear. If your main emotion in this moment is anger at others for being “sheep”, for “giving away their freedom”, for not living up to your definition of faith it may be out of your own fear.
My ultimate point simply is this, in a broken world the line is not always clear between fear and faith and it sure isn’t always straight. Before we call others motive and heart into question let’s look to our own.