Often in life, our fears obstruct our wisdom. Fears—flaming, screaming, whimpering distractions—keep us from our path. Fear is so often the enemy of what is good. This is why the scriptures tell us, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7, nkjv). We are assured that “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).
Yet we know the brave are not always fearless. They are often very afraid and for good reason, but they act upon their conviction anyway. Perhaps wise people simply know how to prioritize their fears. They are not fearless, but they fear some things less than others.
A wise person may think, I fear the loss of my integrity more than I fear the loss of a job. I fear the loss of self more than I fear the consequences of being true to myself. I fear a loveless life more than I fear the pain of loving. I fear the regret of not doing this brave thing more than I fear the risk of doing it. I fear being silenced more than I fear being disliked.
Perhaps the beginning of wisdom lives in an explicitly Christian version of these statements: I fear denying God, not because I am afraid of punishment or wrath but because I know I could miss out on adventure, meaning, and purpose.
Courageous God, it is scary to follow your way of radical love. Help me to be less afraid of the consequences and difficulties of fidelity to your path and more afraid of missing out on what is good and right and true. If there is no escaping fear in this life, grant me the wisdom to know which fears can guide me and which fears obstruct my walk of faith. Amen.
If you could ask God for one thing, what would it be? God offered this chance to Solomon, and the king asked for wisdom to rule God’s people well. God honored this request by giving Solomon many other gifts too, as long as the king followed God’s ways. (Later on, unfortunately, Solomon lost his way.) The psalmist tells us that wisdom begins with understanding who we are and who God is. Ephesians addresses practical implications of wise living: follow the will of the Lord, be filled with the Spirit, encourage one another, and be grateful to God. The Gospel passage continues Jesus’ metaphorical description of himself as the bread of heaven. Here Jesus anticipates the sacrament of Communion, in which we partake of his body and blood by faith.
• Read 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14. Why are you afraid to ask God to meet your needs or show you your call?
• Read Psalm 111. What actions dominate your quest for God? Do you remember to stop and delight in God’s love for you?
• Read Ephesians 5:15-20. How do you make the most of your time with God? How do you show others that you are filled with the Spirit?
• Read John 6:51-58. In Communion we recall Jesus’ offering of his body and blood. How has that concept been a stumbling block to you?
Respond by posting a prayer.
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