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Earl Middleton, M.Div.1 Samuel 15:24-31 (KJV)
And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice. [25] Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the Lord. [26] And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee from being king over Israel. [27] And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent. [28] And Samuel said unto him, The Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou. [29] And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent. [30] Then he said, I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the Lord thy God. [31] So Samuel turned again after Saul; and Saul worshipped the Lord.
Like Saul in the 15th chapter of the first Book of Samuel, whenever we approach the cusp of opportunity the spirit of fear will flash like lightning on the precipice to turn us back and deny us the opportunity. Fear of the unknown, fear of our own limitations, fear of the faces of the inhabitants of that new land of opportunity, fear of success, fear of failure, fear of being afraid, fear of our past repeating itself, fear of a future we cannot control, just plain old fear, man, will jump up on the sly and grab hold of us in our most vulnerable places and refuse to release us until we do something. Until we either succumb to the fear or settle it for good.
If you’re on the edge of opportunity, I’ve got a word for you: fear is no excuse to mess it up. It never has been a valid excuse, and never will be. Not with God anyway. Like his ancestors before him who allowed fear of the native giants to rob them of their opportunity to possess their promised land, Saul allowed fear of the people and what they thought of him to inspire his disobedience of a clear command from God, and ultimately rob him of his singular place in the Kingdom.
I hear you. “Well, he was just scared. He didn’t mean to disobey. God should have given him another chance.”
Make no mistake about it, fear based disobedience is still disobedience. There is no pass, no asterisk, no leniency attached to fear inspired behavior. In fact, God deals with the fearfully disobedient most harshly (Rev 20:8). Just because we’re scared doesn’t make our disobedience okay with God. Nor does it exempt us from the consequences of disobedience and failure to heed the voice of God (Deut 28:15-68).
The spirit of fear masquerades as other, more socially acceptable forms of action and/or inaction. Here are just four of them. Are any of these active in your life? Fear is a spirit and we seldom view these as spiritual problems, but they are:
  • Procrastination – when we’re afraid of what the future holds or might demand we often freeze in the present, hoping for something to change: either the future, or us. Constant lateness, frequent no-shows, missed deadlines are all indicators of the presence of the spirit of fear. When we’re afraid we put things off, we procrastinate. The world expects and accepts that people will procrastinate on some things they find unpleasant, but in the Kingdom of God there is no tolerance for this, because it’s fearful behavior (Prov 26:13).
  • Lack of understanding – understanding is a function of faith (Heb 11:3through faith we understand…), and the main target of fear is faith itself. When fear overpowers faith, understanding fails. When we fail to understand directions, requirements, the significance of a moment, or the potential consequences of our decisions it’s another indicator of the presence of the spirit of fear. When we’re afraid we have difficulty understanding and comprehending. The world expects and accepts that people will lack the ability to understand some things, but in the Kingdom of God, where we have access to the mind of Christ, there is no tolerance for this, because it’s fearful behavior (1 Cor 2:15-16).
  • Misunderstanding – when the spirit of fear penetrates a relationship, misunderstandings abound. Marriages, friendships, mentorships, workplace relationships of every stripe suffer when fear robs the relationship of the common faith that comes from hearing and being submitted to the same word (Rom 10:17). A ruling spirit of fear makes it impossible for people in a relationship to hear the same things and so have the same mind and judgment (1 Cor 1:10). When we’re afraid we have disagreements and misunderstandings. The world expects and accepts that misunderstandings will happen, but in the Kingdom of God there is no tolerance for this, because it’s fearful behavior.
  • Hate – when the spirit of fear invades our heart we become cold and hardened by hate. Hate is as much the polar opposite of love as night is of day, or evil is of good, or cold is of hot. There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear, because fear has torment and whoever is fearful has not been made complete by and in love.1 Jn 4:18 Hating another person by refusing to love them (or non-love, which is the basic definition of hate) is an indicator of the ruling presence of the spirit of fear, because fear and hate (non-love) are couplets just as faith and love are couplets. Faith works by love (Gal 5:6) and fear invites hate. The world expects and accepts that we will hate at least some people, especially our enemies, but in the Kingdom of God there is no tolerance for hate because it’s fearful behavior. Instead we are called to demonstrate our connection to Jesus by our love, which demands the expulsion of fear.
Never surrender to fear. View it as a cause for personal mobilization and motivation. Fear as an excuse for anything, action or inaction, has never been accepted by God, and never will be. So, the sooner we adopt God’s attitude toward fear, the sooner we can eliminate it as a hindrance to the amazing life God wants us to live.

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