Have you ever heard the saying, ”fear is the opposite of faith?” It’s very commonly taught, but believe it or not, it’s not exactly true.
Why is that? First we must define faith and fear to determine whether they are opposite each other or even in the same category.
Defining Faith, Defining Fear
Faith is a choice and a gift from God; it isn’t something you can really feel, although it can lead to feelings such as assurance and confidence in the Lord.
Fear is a feeling; it’s not something we choose to experience. It is possible for a feeling of fear to lead to an action that is sinful, but not always because we choose how we respond to our feelings.
Faith is not the opposite of fear. Because faith is a choice and fear is a feeling, they can’t be opposites.Tweet
Did you know you can feel fear and yet also take action from a place of faith despite it? Faith is not the opposite of fear because faith is a choice and fear is a feeling, so they can’t be opposites.
I live in a mountainous area where hiking is common. Do you know what is also common? Wild animals. I don’t mind the chipmunks and deer, but bears? Yikes!
Imagine a bear is coming up your path during a hike. Would you experience fear? Most likely, you definitely would! Does feeling that fear mean you don’t have faith? Not necessarily!
At that moment, fear is a natural response to danger, not the opposite of faith. Fear can lead to a reaction of a fight/flight/freeze response to a real or perceived threat. And that fear is actually beneficial because it typically leads you to get to safety, while yes, also trusting God to help and get us through it safely.
Faith on the other hand must be coupled with wisdom. If you’re facing a bear, running up to it and screaming “Get away in Jesus’ name!” (like the unbiblical prosperity/Word of Faith preachers would probably tell you) is probably not the best choice. Sure, God is God so He could lead you to do that, but it’s more probable that He would instead lead you to wisely escape from the danger you’re in.
Fear in Daily Life
What about every day experiences of fear and anxiety?
These emotions often occur in circumstances where we are not in danger in the same way we would be if a bear came near. However, when we feel fear or anxiety in daily life, we often allow those feelings to control our reaction to it.
This can lead us to a sinful action, or it can lead us to act out of faith instead. A sinful action might include worrying or avoiding something out of fear. The feeling of that fear and anxiety are not something we choose to feel and therefore feeling them isn’t sin. However we must be careful in how we respond to these feelings, that our corresponding action or thought is not sinful.
We should seek to respond with a faith-filled action that says we trust God despite our feelings. When tempted to worry, we can instead choose to read God’s Word and meditate on who He is. We can focus on His faithfulness and ability rather than meditate on the what-ifs that anxiety seeks to stir up.
Fear and anxiety are not something we choose to feel, but we must be careful in how we respond to these feelings. Will we respond in a sinful way by worrying, or in a godly way by trusting God?Tweet
Fear is not the opposite of faith, and faith is not the opposite of fear. Some mistakenly treat faith as something you feel but faith is not a feeling.
Opposites must be in the same category, like love versus hate or hot versus cold. But fear is a feeling and faith is a choice and gift from God. Feeling fear does not necessarily mean you have no faith. By remembering fear is something we feel, we are empowered to choose a God-honoring response when we experience it.
Want more encouragement concerning fear and anxiety? Read Encouragement for the Anxious: Your Emotions Are NOT Sin