Members of a psychology class asked about 500 people, “What are you afraid of?” They collected some 7000 different fears. The Bible speaks of fear in two different ways. There is the fear that is commanded which equates to honor, reverence, respect, or awe. 1 Peter 2:17 says, “Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” Peter is not saying that we should live in terror of God but rather that we should show Him the reverence and respect that He is due. In Acts 9:31 we read, “Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.” Acts 10:2 speaks of Cornelius, “a devout man and one who feared God with all his household”. These people reverenced God, respected Him and stood in awe of Him. This is the kind of fear we are commanded to have.
There is also a fear we are not to have. The phrase, “fear not” or “be not afraid” occur nearly 180 times in the Bible. Fear of failure caused the one talent man to be called “wicked and lazy” (Matthew 25:26). Fear caused Peter to deny the Lord (Matthew 26:69-75). Fear can cause one to be lost (Revelation 21:7-8). Fear of failure or fear of what others will say or think about us has kept more people from doing what God wants us to do than probably any kind of obstacle. In 2 Timothy 1:7 the apostle Paul wrote, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and a sound mind.” And in Psalm 118:6 we read, “The Lord is on my side, I will not fear, what can man do to me?” “If God is for us who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).