Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: and I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. Matthew 25:24, 25.

     Our culture today is riddled with fear. From the psychologist's couch to the stock market to the job to the typical pulpit, fear is everywhere. No segment of society is free of this invasive demon. Jobs are sought which offer security. Most preaching is driven by the fear of hell, not the love of God. The prison of fear that invades every life, hampers every effort to invest our spiritual, God-given talents, and make for untold misery.

     This verse from the parable of the talents says more than we can readily grasp about our fear- driven world. The man was given one talent to invest and guard during his master's absence. Upon the master's return all the servants were asked to report on their use of the talents under their control. The man with one talent, approximately $1,000 in current value, offered a flood of excuses, but then he told the truth, "I was afraid!"

     What was the effect of fear in the servant's life? Obviously, the man was paralyzed with fear, and, consequently, did nothing. What a commentary on our lives! Nothing in all the realm of human emotions paralyzes like fear! In this servant it first triggered uncontrolled imaginations. "I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed." The description of the Master's dealings with the other servants does not disclose any indication of hardness or dishonesty. "What if the plane crashes?" "What if they have a wreck?" "What if the test confirms that i have cancer?" "What if i lose my job?" Any of these questions, or a parade of similar fears, triggers a burst of adrenaline in our blood stream and a burst of anxiety reactions in our minds. We imagine the event actually taking place, we think ourselves through how we would react to the news, how we would be able to live with the consequences. Then we go to bed and wake up feeling as if we had spent the night wrestling with the front line of the Chicago Bears. We face the demands of the day, already tired and worn out. In a state of exhaustion any disappointment is exaggerated, so we react with a "See I knew it. There is no hope! Woe is me!"

     This chain reaction will always lead us to the same consequence which the one talent servant experienced. Wild imagination drives us to cross bridge after bridge in our minds which we will never face in fact. Crisis after crisis is wrestled through the mind's imagination to the point of mental exhaustion. Then the real issue faces us. The master returns and expects our report on his talent. We reach into our imagination for an excuse to justify our poor performance, and end up passing the buck. "It's all your fault!" "Due to circumstances beyond my control ... "

     Not long ago, my wife received a book which, through a long series of questions, discloses your basic personality type. The results are stated in various combinations of four letters, ENSP, INFJ. I borrow from this idea to illustrate the way we excuse our fear paralysis. As I recently heard from a well known radio evangelist, there are five common categories which serve as scape goats for our fears. IIWFM, "If it weren't for me." "It's all my fault. I can never do anything right." The pity party is in full swing. Then there is the IIWFY type, "If it weren't for you." "I had it all worked out until you stepped in and ruined it all. It's all your fault." Then there is IIWFT type, "If it weren't for them." How often do we blame an unidentified "them" for what is wrong in our lives? The proverbial "they" are responsible. Next, there is the IIWFP type, "If it weren't for problems." "It rained," "It didn't rain," "Nobody knows the troubles I've seen." When we focus all our energy and thought on all the problems of the world, and our lives, we are always overwhelmed with fear and paralysis. Finally, there is the IIWFC type, "If it weren't for circumstances." There is always a circumstance which stands between us and what we really should be doing. Many years ago I knew a preacher who repeatedly said, "Unless providentially hindered, ....." If it's right and if God teaches us to do it, we can hardly claim that he contradicts himself and hinders us from the very thing he directed. I wish I could say that I don't fit into any of these categories, but I must confess that I frequently fit into all of them!

     The paralysis of fear surrounds us, invades us, and often controls us more commonly than just about any other single force in our lives. It always triggers irresponsible imagination, it always seeks another to blame, and it always paralyzes!

     What does the bible teach us about fear? Fear of God, fear of man, good fear, bad fear? Considering the human tendency to be afraid, as we should expect from God's helpful commentary, the Bible is full of teachings and illustrations on the subject. No one, even our Bible heros, is exempt from this trait. May the Lord help us to learn more about fear and about His wonderful deliverance from it in this study.

Is there a man whose daring hand, can number every grain of sand?
Can count the drops that fill the sea, or tell how many stars there be?
Who, then, shall strive to comprehend infinity that knows no end?
Or lower eternity to one poor hour?
Believe me, friend, thou canst no more the vast designs of God explore,
Than thy short arm can touch the skies, or fathom ocean's deep abyss.
Who shall disclose his Maker's plan, or dare his secret will to scan?
Shall feeble, guilty, finite man?
None but perfection, such as his, can know the Almighty as he is;
His glory never can be brought adapted to a mortal's thought.
Consider what thou art, and fear this unseen witness always near.
Dive not into his deep decree: the object's too elate for thee,
Thou must not ask, nor wish to see.
Cast each presumptous doubt away; remember thou art best, but clay,
Whose only province is to obey.

            Augustus M. Toplady, to a friend who asked what God is.

Elder Joe Holder
Little Zion Primitive Baptist Church
16434 Woodruff
Bellflower, California

Fear: Part 1 - The Paralysis of Fear

Submitted by Sister Martha Pitney
Of Friendship PBC in Denver

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