“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (I Jn. 4:18, ESV).
Most of our fears are a consequence of not knowing God well enough. Fear comes from uncertainty. If we are confident, secure, and certain about who we are in Christ, and who Christ is in us, then we won’t be worried about what the devil might do, and we won’t be worried about what other people might do.
Now folks, that’s a lot off your plate. Imagine what a relief it would be to just live your life in friendship with God, unaffected by worries and fears about the devil, unmoved by worries and fears about other people – what they might think, what they might say, what they might do.
Think about all you could accomplish if you were truly unafraid. I’m not saying you go out and take foolish risks. I’m saying fear holds us back. God tells us to go but we’re afraid to go. God tells us to stay put but we’re afraid to stay put. God gives us something to say but we’re afraid to say it. God gives us a talent or a gift that will bless and encourage and help other people, but we’re afraid we’ll make a mistake, or afraid we’ll look foolish, or afraid we might fail.
Let me go ahead and allay those fears right now. Let me share something with you that will set you free from fear of failure, fear of making mistakes. I’m still relatively young, but I’ve been at this for a long time. People say, “How can you know so much and be so young?” I’ll tell you why, it’s because I’ve made enough mistakes for three people twice my age. By the time I was twenty I had made enough mistakes for someone eighty. I have failed more times than I have succeeded. I have fallen down, gotten up, fallen down, gotten up, fallen down, gotten up, and sometimes I think God created me to be an example to others of what NOT to do. I’m only just beginning to experience some victories, some successes, some fruitfulness. I’ve had to learn it the hard way.
But here’s what I want to share with you, to set you free from fear of failure, fear of making mistakes, fear of stepping out, fear of stepping up. Here’s what God showed me: His plan, and His purpose for my life, is based on my making lots of mistakes. His plan accounts for the fact that I’m going to fail. He already has that factored into the equation. We don’t take God by surprise, or derail His purpose, by anything we do or fail to do. His purpose and His plan for your life is not dependent on you never making a mistake. Not only does He know that you will make mistakes, and you will fail, He makes His plans based on the fact that things are going to come along to try and mess up His plans.
Have you ever made plans to do something? Do you plan for things to go wrong, or do you plan for things to go right? Most people come up with a plan and the plan assumes everything is going to go the way it should. But what happens? Something always goes wrong, and then the plan collapses.
For me it happens every Saturday. My wife gives me a little home repair project, and I think it’s going to be pretty simple, just need a hammer and some nails and this and that. So I plan to take five minutes to do this simple repair. Then I get five minutes into the project and realize it’s worse than I thought, I need a watchamacallit and a thingamajig and I don’t have what I need, so now I have to make a trip to the store. They don’t have what I need so I have to go somewhere else. Then I come home and the part I thought I needed doesn’t fit, I need something larger or something smaller, and now I have to go back to the store again. What should have been a five minute project becomes a five hour ordeal.
Now, do you think God is like that? Do you think He is so foolish as to have one plan that relies upon you and me doing everything perfectly, never making a mistake? Do you think you can make a mistake or fail so miserably that you can outsmart God and thwart His plan for your life?
Certainly we can delay His purpose, and we can bring a lot of unnecessary suffering on ourselves by being willfully disobedient, but if our heart is right and we’re doing the best we know how to do then God is able to work everything out for His glory, even our mistakes, even our failures, EVEN OUR SINS. I’m not saying go out and sin, because there are consequences for sin. I’m talking about your past right now. Don’t worry that your past disqualifies you, because it doesn’t. You can’t go back and undo these past mistakes, past failures, past sins. I’m saying don’t let fear about your past keep you from loving God now, living life now.
Don’t worry about being perfect in the future, because God’s purpose for your life is based on you being imperfect. God wants to show the world how He can take anything and bring good out of it, how He can take imperfect people who make mistakes and still do something good with their lives.
That is going to be the history of mankind, we’re all going to be amazed one day when we look back and see how God worked all things together for good, brought light out of darkness, and used evil for good.
The preceeding article is based on an audio series titled
“Overcoming Fear and Worry: Spiritual Principles for Victorious Living.”