"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

     In the Garden of Eden .. Adam and Eve demonstrated a classic fear reaction. After their sin they tried to cover themselves and hide from God, fear of shame. Probably, one of Adam's motives in knowingly joining Eve in the sin was fear of loneliness. At length we will examine the fear of man, but this lesson presents us with a potentially more serious fear than any ungrounded fear of man we can imagine.

     An analysis of the various symbols in the parable strongly suggests that the lord of the parable, the owner of the talents, a symbol of lordship and authority, is God himself. Therefore, the man with one talent illustrates an improper fear of God. He first accused the lord of being a hard man. In James 3:4 the word fierce is translated from the same word as hard in this lesson, a severe accusation, especially for the servant to hurl at his master.

     Obviously, the parable aimed at the human tendency, even in the most sincere Christian, to blame God for things we dislike or do not understand. How was the master a hard man? Where had he reaped without sowing? How often do we attempt to make God the heavy for our problems? And when we do react in this way, is it not because we are afraid? It should be observed that, in every lie there is a little truth. In the midst of an accusing lie, "Thou art an hard man," this wicked servant did tell the truth, "I was afraid." Nothing in scripture or in legitimate Christian experience justifies this kind of fear toward God! Neither does anything in God justify the false accusation of the servant, "Thou art an hard man." Can we find anything in this lesson to enlighten our own attitude toward God?

     Let's examine only two dimensions of the subject. First, let's think about fear as the driving force to obedience. When you are faced with a decision, do you think about what God will do to you if you make the wrong choice? Do you fear his revenge against you for a bad decision, the classic "God will get you for that?" In Romans 14:23 Paul said, "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin." Is fear "of faith?" 1 John 4:18 is even more comprehensive, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." Have you ever been driven to obedience by the torment of fear? This is a perfectly understandable reaction, for we have all been guilty at one time or another, but it is not a very rational basis for truly acceptable Christian service. If you are a parent of a small child, do you really want your child to constantly obey you out of fear? Yes, when he is stubborn and rebellious, you may spank him and justify a momentary fear reaction for his good. But do you want this climate to be the constant emotion he feels for you? Heavens no! Then why should we think of God as an iron fisted head thumper who is thrilled at any opportunity to beat us up for failure to obey? How can such a tormented attitude please God? Why would we think that God wants us to think of him in these terms? Yuck!

     The second aspect of the subject deals with our attitude toward God when we have wronged him or one of his children. God's legitimate parental correction does justify a beneficial, constructive fear which enables us to admit the error and correct the faulty behavior. However, the more common attitude appears as fear of unrestrained vengeance. Many who believe in falling away so as to lose your eternal salvation base their belief on this error. Define the good of the child, and judicial punishment for a crime against the state, and you will see the fault in this kind of fear. Friends, fear of hell will never prompt acceptable Christian conduct! The common Christian would recoil in horror at a father who killed his child for some violation of family rules. Yet this same common Christian unthinkingly accepts the notion of a God who sends disobedient children of God to eternal punishment! Soft on sin? Not for a minute! The real issue is a matter of appropriate punishment in the family. In relation to his family God appropriately administers chastisement, designed to correct the error and reinforce a spirit of love and respect for the family. In relation to his eternal judgement of the wicked God will sit on the great white throne and act as judge in sending the wicked to their deserved punishment. But what horror for children of God to live under the fear that they are subject to the great judgement!

     This servant was unable to obey his master's assignment to invest the talent because he was afraid of the master. Important as they are in a home environment, rules and punishment are not the foundation of a good home. The foundation is deep, sincere, unselfish love! The same is true in the family of God. May we not be paralyzed into burying our talent and falsely accusing God because we think of him with slavish, paralyzing fear.

Lord, should'st thou weigh my righteousness,
Or mark what I have done amiss,
How should thy servant stand?
Tho others might, yet surely I
Must hide my face, nor dare to cry
For mercy at they hand.
But thou art loth thy bolts to shoot;
Backward and slow to execute
The vengeance due to me:
Thou dost not willingly reprove,
For all the mild effects of love
Are centered, Lord, in thee.
Shine, then, thou all subduing light,
The powers of darkness put to flight,
Nor from me ever part:
From earth to heaven be thou my guide,
And O, above each gift beside,
Give me an upright heart.

              Augustus M. Toplady

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

Fear: Part 2 - Ungodly Fear

Submitted by Sister Martha Pitney
Of Friendship PBC in Denver

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