July 12, 1994
My husband’s Uncle Bud led a colorful life. For instance, he once had a water spaniel that was afraid of water. Embarrassed with this inappropriate characteristic, Uncle Bud did what most people would do; he tossed it in the river. The fearful dog not only nearly drowned; Bud had to jump in and rescue it!
Like that dog, each of us have fears of one kind or another. For instance, my sister-in-law shrieks when she sees a spider and I once chased my brother around the yard with a garter snake. My own pulse races just watching on television the view from atop a tall building. People have fears in the spiritual realm too. Some are afraid of evil spirits. Others are afraid of God and think He plans harm for them. On the other hand, some Christians fear making gross mistakes and sinning against Him. Those who feel that way often pray: “lead us not into temptation.”
In relation to fearing sin, there is a comforting promise in 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
Anyone serious about not sinning hopes this verse means God will never give them anything they can’t handle. That is almost what it says, but not exactly. Read it again. God promises to not allow temptation beyond what we can bear — in that He provides a way to stand up under the temptation. He does not say overwhelming temptation will never come nor does He say we can handle it by ourselves.
Realistically, this world without temptation would be heaven! Since that is not the case, temptation to sin is everywhere, not only inside our own hearts but all around us. By allowing us to experience temptation, God helps us discover one of two things. Either by failure we learn where our faith needs to be stronger, or by success we learn that God is faithful. His way out actually works.
Regarding fear, it is generally opposite to faith. It is impossible to trust God and be anxious at the same time. When Jesus walked on water, Peter thought that would be exciting and asked if he could try. Jesus invited him to step out of the boat. Peter was fine as long as he kept his eyes on the Lord. As soon as he looked at the storm, fear confronted him and the apostle followed anxiety instead of Jesus.
Peter had a way out. He could keep on trusting Christ, but he failed. Instead of standing up under the temptation, he actually began sinking under the water. Jesus had to come to his rescue.
Job, an Old Testament character, had problems with fear also. He hoped calamity would never happen, but after losing his livestock and his family, Job said, “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.”
However, Job also “feared God and shunned evil.” When his negative fears came true, his faith in God wavered but held. He was finally able to say: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Later, God restored his losses and commended him for his declaration of faith.
Like Bud’s little dog, without intervention, we would not survive many situations that confront us. Trust in God does not eliminate temptation, danger or trials, but He does guarantee to provide a way through them so we can resist yielding to fear or sin.