Fear Makes Fools of Us All

by Andy Wood on August 22, 2011

in Ability, Enlarging Your Capacity, Five LV Laws, Hoarders, Life Currency, LV Alter-egos, LV Cycle, Principle of Freedom

The other day I found a smoking gun.  And it’s still smoking.

It’s the greatest test of your character, hands down.  Other than pride, it’s the most deceptive phenomenon we humans encounter because it takes so many hidden forms.

It’s the deceptive driver behind many of the ways we think, act, or speak.  It’s often the reason we give up in the face of pressure, avoid caring for certain people, or keep a long memory of others’ offenses.  It drives us to compare ourselves with others, point out others’ faults and weaknesses, or brag about ourselves to impress people.  It leads us to lie to protect ourselves, assume the worst about the future, or treat people with suspicion or jealousy or just plain rudeness.

Yes, I’m talking about fear.  And it can lead to some galactically stupid choices.  I’ve had mine.  You’ve probably had yours.  Let’s pick on somebody else.

Three Examples from the Bible

Scene 1

Have you ever actually seen a fig leaf?  It takes some time and quite a few leaves to sew those babies into something presentable.  No sooner had Adam and Eve covered up, that they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the cool of the day.  They promptly hid.

From God.

Here was Adam’s explanation for his strange behavior:  “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself” (Genesis 3:10).  Guess those fig leaves weren’t working out so well after all.

Scene 2

This one starts with a little show-and-tell.  The Lord is bragging to Satan about one of his wonder-children – his servant Job.  What ensues is something of a cosmic bet, and Job pays dearly.  He loses his children, his business assets, and even his health.  All he’s left with is a sucky life and an angry wife.

As he laments about it, Job reveals something very telling:

What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.

I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil” (Job 3:25-26, NIV).

Did you catch that?  Job had already visited that day of dread in his mind before it ever happened.  I wonder… Naw…  couldn’t be

Scene 3

This one takes place in a story Jesus told about the landowner who passed out whopping sums of money for three different servants to manage.  A “talent” was something like quarter- to a half-million dollars in our currency.  Two of the servants went out and put the master’s money at risk, trading and investing for a very nice profit.  But behind door number 3, the servant dug a hole and buried his.  All of which led to this intelligent explanation:

“’Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate.  I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.”

Hmmm.  Try that on your boss sometime.  “Boss, you scare me because you’re so harsh.  So I decided not to do my job rather than to do it and risk making a mistake.”

How About You and Me?

Oh, those silly Bible characters.  Inviting bad consequences because of bad choices – all because of fear.  We would never do that.

Would we?

Would you ever criticize somebody or try to show them up because you felt inferior?

Would you ever dwell on a frightening future that may never happen (the word for that is “worry”)?

Would you ever sabotage a relationship because you felt insecure and didn’t want to be hurt yourself?

Would you ever sandbag or settle for mediocre performance because you felt inadequate to risk going for it (whatever “it” is)?

Would you ever think of harboring bitterness toward somebody or some institution because you vowed to protect yourself from letting them ever hurt you again?

How About All the Jerks in Your World?

Next time you’re on the short end of somebody else’s offense or find yourself reeling because of someone’s sinful or stupid choices, consider this:  maybe they’re just afraid.  And most people don’t admit fear – they just act badly on it.  That won’t take away the hurtfulness of their actions.  But it may give you wisdom in how to respond.

Maybe they aren’t just brazenly selfish – maybe they’re terrified and just don’t know what to do with it.

Maybe, like a wounded animal, they’re hurting badly, and don’t know how else to protect themselves.

Maybe they aren’t hiding from you so much as they’re hiding from what they’re afraid you will do or say… or what may happen to you.

Maybe they need you to remind them what the Martians used to remind us on the old sci-fi movies:  “Earthlings, we mean you no harm.”

Maybe, even in the wake of poor choices, they need to be reminded of one of David’s most important commitments:

When I am afraid, I will trust in you.

In God, whose word I praise,

in God I trust; I will not be afraid.

What can mortal man do to me? (Psalms 56:3-4, NIV).

Vince Lombardi famously said that “fatigue makes cowards of us all.”  I would respectfully add that fear makes fools of us all sooner or later.  But it doesn’t have to remain the controlling force in your life.

More later.  For now, maybe it’s time to examine yourself… before you’re put in a position to have to explain yourself.  You’re not afraid of a little self-examination…

…are you?

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