By Barrett Vanlandingham
In the final part of my five-part series titled “Set Yourself Free,” I am writing about fear of failure, why Christians may often feel this way, and how God’s word says we can overcome it.
While Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 10:12 that we should not become over-confident that the devil cannot grab us by the neck, scripture also says we have every reason to have hope and conduct our spiritual walk without timidity, and with a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).
So why do so many Christians fear eternity in hell when Jesus went through so much to give us a home in heaven? One reason might be guilt that we are not doing enough to deserve it. Or maybe we simply cannot imagine that the God of the Bible has enough power, grace or love to actually save us if we accidentally forget to ask his forgiveness for a sin we have forgotten about. Or maybe some just struggle more with sin and have difficulties overcoming temptation. Or maybe some simply have a fear of the unknown events of Judgment Day.
The fact is that no matter where you are in your faith, truth is truth. Just because we have fears, doubts, and weaknesses does not mean God does. He actually means what he says, and has proven that repeatedly. God loves us and continues to go to extremes to make sure we know it. He assures us that Jesus gives us the spiritual strength we need (Ephesians 6:10-11, Philippians 4:13).
Hebrews 4:15 reminds us that Jesus is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. That should comfort us and give us confidence to approach God in prayer, and walk with Him through life’s trials.
We also need to remember that because of the time Jesus spent on earth as a man, he knows exactly what we are capable of when we put our mind to it. That may be exactly why God not only expects us to grow spiritually (2 Peter 3:18), but he tells us how to grow (2 Peter 1:5-8), and then promises to dwell with us (1 Corinthians 6:19, John 14:16-17, Acts 2:38) in spite of our failed attempts to live righteously. You see, God knows we are going to mess up. All he asks is that we as baptized believers (Mark 16:16) continue to repent of our sins (Luke 13:3) as we earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6) on our way to heaven.
Unlike physical growth, which happens automatically, spiritual growth is a choice. Paul and John both agree that spiritual growth requires effort on our part as we press on toward the goal to win the prize (John 6:27, Philippians 2:12 and 3:13-14).
Fear of failure is nothing new. The devil has used it for thousands of years as one of his best tools to discourage Christians into giving up the good fight. May God bless you this week with a renewed commitment in your relationship with Jesus Christ. He is our only hope, and He will never turn his back on you. So hold on to his hand in everything, and enjoy victory because of Him. Have a great week!
Reach Barrett Vanlandingham at the Fort Gibson Church of Christ at (918) 478-2222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.