Decisions made from a place of fear are seldom the best for us or those we love. But something happens when we’re afraid–we feel a sense of urgency that can lead us down a nasty path; fear can quickly position us to act without fully formed thought, blinded to the fact that fear-founded decisions are rarely best. There’s a story in Scripture which seems to illustrate this pretty well:
A man named Jeroboam has been called by God to serve as king over Israel. His position as king is opportunity for him and direct judgment against Solomon for not following God alone; God makes an incredible promise to Jeroboam: the same kind of forever-long dynasty promised to David can be his if only he remains steadfast to God. (cf. 1 Kings 11:37-38).
Not long after this promise is made, Jeroboam begins operating out of fear of losing the very thing only God can orchestrate. I think we would agree he has good reason to be afraid: Solomon is seeking to kill him. But rather than leaning into God or clinging to His promise, Jeroboam leans into fear and makes a fatal error. The motivating factor of fear is clear in his thinking:
If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah. They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam. – 1 Kings 12:27
In an effort to hold onto what he has, Jeroboam chooses to lead the people into idolatry; ironically, this is the same sin which cost Solomon his father’s kingdom, and it nullifies God’s promise to him.
Navigating major decisions from a place of fear of what we may lose positions us to lose the very thing we have been trying to hold onto. At best, fear incites us to at best ignore the power of God and His promises; at worst, it brings us deny them.
How can we tell if we’re functioning from a position of fear? The next post in this series looks at some of the symptoms.