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 though 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 the feeling of fear to lead to an action, but not always.
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 be feeling fear and at the same time take action from a place of faith despite that feeling? Faith is not the opposite of fear. Because faith is a choice and fear is a feeling, 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 likely experience fear? Of course you 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 most likely He would 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 are if a bear came near us. When we feel fear or anxiety in daily life, we often allow that emotion to control our reaction to it.
This means that instead of choosing to respond in faith and trust, we choose a sinful action instead. This might include worrying or avoiding something out of fear. 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.
We must 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. They cannot be opposites because 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 can choose a right response when we experience it.
Want more encouragement concerning fear and anxiety? Read Encouragement for the Anxious: Your Emotions Are NOT Sin