The Good and Bad Fears

Keith Holloway

A young man was given a job at the local zoo, and one day the zookeeper came to him and said, “I need you to go clean out the lion’s cage.”

The young man looked at the zookeeper and said, “No, sir.”

The zookeeper insisted, “You'll be safe. This lion is tame, and it's been raised in the zoo, and it's been fed milk all its life. You'll be fine.”

The young man hesitated and then replied, “Well, I too was raised on milk. But now I like to eat meat.”

Fear is one of the most common emotions that we have in our lives, and yet I think it's one of the most misunderstood. When we look in our world, maybe even in our own lives today, we can tell that fear is at an all-time high. I think a lot of this comes from the fact that we listen too much to the politicians and news reporters, which have become for many people both their preacher and prophet. I want you to know what the Bible says about this issue of fear and whether to receive or reject it.

God built like an instinctive alarm system inside of us that's designed to preserve life, like the young man with the lion. On the other side, we have what I call carnal fear. It’s a senseless kind of fear, a nagging anxiety that lays hold of your heart. The kind that confuses you when you’re trying to make decisions, that strips the future of hope.

John was speaking of this second kind of fear when he wrote, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18, NKJV). When Peter wrote, “Fear God” (1 Peter 2:17), he was speaking of a right fear. It moves us into a posture of honor and holy awe before our Lord because “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7).

Fear, just by definition, is an emotional response and a reaction that seeks to avoid any kind of danger. I would say to us that not all fear is bad. There is the right kind of fear and the wrong kind. It's vital for us as believers, as we walk with Christ and we live in this present world, to really know the difference.