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Fear is a powerful motivator. The Bible tells us to fear not. Stonewall Jackson (and others) are attributed as having said “Never take counsel from your fear.” Nonetheless, people act based on fear.

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah had executed all of the false profits leading Israel astray. King Ahab whined to his wife, Jezebel. Jezebel then sent Elijah a threat, saying she would kill him. Specifically, she said: “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” Elijah ran for his life after hearing her threat.

Once Elijah got to wilderness he sat down and, feeling sorry for himself, said “Lord, take my life.” But God had other plans. After revealing Himself to Elijah, God told him to get up and get moving. He said go to the Wilderness of Damascus and anoint Hazael as king over Syria. God also told Elijah to anoint Jehu as king over Israel and Elisha as prophet. “It shall be that whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill; and whoever escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill.” In other words, while Elijah was whining, God was moving to work His will for the people of Israel.

Too after people let fear guide their decision-making. They worry about a future they can’t control. They worry about money. They worry about investments. They worry about children and grandchildren. They worry instead of taking action in the form of planning. I’m reminded of someone I know who saw the value of his retirement portfolio falling during one of the financial melt downs. They got scared and cashed out. What they didn’t know was that the market would bounce back. By cashing out, they locked in their losses. People who stayed in the market got their money back (and more) when the market bounced back. The result of fear was a permanent loss of retirement funds.

Planning isn’t the same thing as fear or worry. You cannot eliminate all risk, but you can plan to deal with known risks and you can plan to minimize unknown or potential risks. Fear can cause you to make poor decisions or to make no decision at all. A better approach is recognizing fear for what it is, and what is isn’t. As Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” On most of these subjects, we don’t offer an opinion regarding whether it’s a good decision-making tool, but with regard to fear, we think the Bible is clear. Fear is not a basis for good decision-making.

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