Pleasing God, Making Disciples of Jesus Christ

Even the Best of Christians Get Afraid

ACTS 18:9–11 – And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.”


THEME OF THE DAY:  EVEN THE BEST OF CHRISTIANS GET AFRAID.  Charles Spurgeon once said of Christians, “The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy.”  Jesus would tell Peter of the battle each believer faces, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). The weakness of our flesh often causes us to grow weary in the fight, lose zeal in our service for the Lord, and it also fuels our fallen emotions, especially fear.  It is easy to be afraid when tired.  Our guards are down and the devil wants us to be afraid when it comes to taking a stand for the Lord Jesus and suffer for His Name.


In today’s scripture, we are witnessing the greatest Christian ever to live, the Apostle Paul, encountering a very human response to being persecuted and suffering for Jesus – fear, an unhealthy fear of being afraid.   How encouraging it is to find the followers of Jesus in the Bible so “human-like” in their failings!  One of the dangers in reading a biography of a great Christian in the past is the author might make the person bigger than life.  What I mean by that is the emphasis on the subject’s godliness, labor for the Lord, and not give the other side, the real side, of struggles, failures, and even weak areas of sin.  Instead of a biography encouraging us, it might do just the opposite.  Not the Bible.  We get the full picture of our heroes. Here are two. David, the man after God’s own heart, was an adulterer and murderer.  Peter, the leader of the apostles, bold for Christ and a key voice taking the Gospels to the Gentiles also cowardly denied the Lord and that publicly.  Yes, there is much encouragement in the pages of scriptures describing disciples of the Lord Jesus.  But there is more encouragement for us. It comes from the Lord and how He encouraged the Apostle Paul when he was afraid.


The Lord appears to Paul at night.  As He does, He gives him a promise of protection – “No one will attack you to harm you.”  The Apostle, as well as all other Christians, are indestructible until God calls them to Himself.  This is a confidence builder and silences fear.  But the Lord gives another promise.  He promises His Presence – “For I am with you.”  It was the exact same promise He gave Joshua who desperately needed this assurance to overcome his fear – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9). Knowing the Lord is with us in all circumstances will not change our circumstances, but it will build courage in fearful circumstances.  And with the promise of His Presence, the Lord reminds the Apostle Paul he is not without fellow believers who will fight with him and share the burdens of the Christian life.  This is one of the great blessings in being a Christian.  We travel to heaven, fight the good fight, and run the race with other believers, and that helps us overcome fear.  King Solomon offers some wonderful instructions about this fellowship in his wisdom book of Ecclesiastes – Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).  Yes, even the best of Christians fight being afraid, but the God of all grace gives us the grace of His Presence, protection, and other Christians to help us overcome!


PRAYER: “Father, thank You for including in Your Word people who followed You that suffer the same emotions I do.”


QUOTE: “It is okay to be afraid as part of our fallen nature but not okay to be controlled by it contrary to our new nature.”


In the affection of Christ Jesus,


Pastor Jim