Fear: Do or Die.

July 11, 2006 at 8:50 pm | Posted in Character in Today's World, Christianity | 8 Comments


Thanks to Hannah from Beauty of the Heart, for her help and inspiration in this post!


Imagine: Two people in a room, the first person, Bob, is bent on creating a famous quote. His friend, Frank, is trying to help.

Bob: “Ooh! What about this? You have nothing to fear, but fear itself.”

Frank: “But Bob! What about spiders? Because, you know, I really don’t like spiders, and I’m really afraid of them.”

Bob: “Alright. Then you have nothing to fear, but spiders…and fear itself.”

Frank: “But Bob! What about snakes? You know, there are some really poisonous snakes, and I really don’t like them, in fact, I’m downright scared of them.”

Bob: “Ok. Then you have nothing to fear but, spiders, snakes…and fear itself.”

*Five hours later*

Bob: “So what you’re telling me, is that there is nothing to fear but, spiders, snakes, the dark, clowns, hippopotamus’, peanut butter, books, string, trees, lighthouses, fish?…and fear itself!”

Frank: “But Bob! What about things like, rejection, failure, pain, disappointment?”

HT to Adam Hardy for the intro idea. This was part of his Original Oratory for compeition this past year.

Someone asked me recently, “What would you attempt to do if you did not fear failure?” I felt as though I had been hit over the head with a baseball bat. The question made me stop and think. Think hard. If I were to compile a list of every opportunity to expand my knowledge and experience, which I have rejected due to my fear of failure, the size of my list would rival Webster’s Dictionary. The times in which I have turned down the chance to offer an encouraging word to a hurting person– when I shirked from giving a gentle rebuke to a friend when one was needed, when I did not share the Gospel for fear of ridicule, or when I ignored the opportunity to serve because it would remove me from my comfort zone–are staggeringly abundant.

Conquering fear is a subject mentioned a lot in the Bible. Proverbs 29:25 says, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” The phrase, “Be not afraid,” occurs in the Bible fifty-four times. If the Bible warns us so many times not to be afraid, we do we fear? Selfishness? Comfort? Lack of trust? Fear will drag you down, and has in many cases, made people physically sick. When you fear, trust is placed in the familiar, rather than God. We would rather believe in what we know than step out into the un-known, leaning on God to fulfill His promise of faithfulness to us.

But is all fear bad? Psalms 111:10 and Proverbs 9:10 tell us, “”The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…” So not all fear is bad. What those passages tell us, is that the fear of man ensnares, whereas the fear of the Lord liberates.


First, when we look at the fear of man, we can see that many times it stems from selfishness. For instance, I have known people who have become reclusive and unsociable because of shyness. They cannot look you in the eye or carry on a full conversation. As a person with shy tendencies, I can sympathize with them, but the damaging effects of their fear are apparent. They are unwilling to look beyond their own comfort towards the needs of others, because they are literally handicapped by fear. I have known people who were unwilling to talk to do something with a non-believer because they feared. They feared that they unbeliever would cause them to sin, they feared that they would do the wrong thing, etc. As a result, that non-believer didn’t hear the Gospel that day. So fear will handicap you, and prevent you from doing something that you should be doing…it ensnares you.

On the other hand, you have the fear of the Lord. What is the fear of the Lord? It is a reverence that causes us to want to do the right thing. Not because we’re scared of the punishment, but because we fear the shame, we fear failing the Savior. So let’s define our terms here. Fear: In the Hebrew, the word is “YIR’AH” and is used in the Old Testament to describe:

a. fear, terror

b. awesome or terrifying thing (object causing fear)

c. fear (of God), respect, reverence, piety

The Greek word is “PHOBOS”, and it is used to describe:

a. fear, dread, terror

b. that which strikes terror

That fear of the Lord, prevents us from sinning. Proverbs 16:6 states that, “…through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil.” What does sin do? Well, in Hebrews 12:1 Paul encourages us to, “…throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Emphasis mine) What is another word for entangles? Sin ensnares you. But since the fear of the Lord causes us to avoid evil, the fear of the Lord liberates. There is a famous song that captures this eloquently:

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,

And grace my fears relieved.

How precious did that grace appear,

The hour I first believed.

(once again, emphasis mine)

When we fear the Lord, we liberate ourselves. Today, I encourage you to exchange your ensnaring fear of man, for the liberating, freeing fear of the Lord. In the end then, we have nothing to fear, but God Himself.

For discussion:

  • What you are afraid of?
  • How extensively does that fear impact your life?
  • Who governs you? God or fear?
  • What would you attempt to do if you didn’t fear failure?
  • What would you attempt to do if you didn’t fear?




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  1. Great post, Marshall! I especially loved the intro and opening paragraph. To be honest, it was very convicting.

    Thanks for the reminder! Keep up the great work!

  2. awesome post. convicting and very thought provoking.
    keep it up, my bro.

  3. Excellent job Marshall/Hannah. I always appreciate the original root meaning of words; it seems to make the words “richer”. You did a great job with this and I have been thinking on that question of what I would attempt to do if I didn’t fear failure. Ouch! Convicting.

  4. The word for “snare” in Prov. 29:25 is interesting: it can be literally translated as a “hook in the nose.” That pertains to military victory- the victors would sometimes put a meat hook threw the persons nose, and that person would follow them ANYWHERE.
    It’s interesting…

  5. Awesome article, Marshall!

    LOL…I just noticed that your name matches a Founding Fathers’ in reverse. Sherman Marshall was one of the Founding Fathers. 🙂

  6. Great post! It was very, very challenging and very clear and had a great message. 🙂

  7. In case you check this instead of your xanga, here it is again.

    Hey Marshall…I have a favor to ask…do you think you could send me your living address? A zealous ARC christmas-card-sender asked me to find a bunch of addresses for her so that she could send Christmas cards, and I promised I’d try to help her out. If you’d send me yours I’ll take full responsibility for any terrorists that might show up on your doorstep in the near future as a result. thanks forever! – Monica C.

  8. (maidofmocha@yahoo.com)

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