Fear, Faith, Wisdom, and Common Sense

The world seems to have gone crazy. I’ve seen and heard everything from sheer panic to absolute flippancy about what is currently happening with the coronavirus. And unless you live under a rock, I expect you have as well.

Some are stockpiling toilet paper to last years. While others seem to think the definition of faith, the opposite of fear, is denial of the reality which we are currently facing. Neither is the answer. But there is a lot to be said about wisdom.

Wisdom and faith are not mutually exclusive. Faith and common sense are not mutually exclusive. And using discretion and the brain God gave us does not equal fear.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Every single morning that I drive Anna to school we recite this scripture (not just during flu epidemics or Coronavirus pandemics). We don’t just say “For God has not given us a spirit of fear . . . ” and leave it there. We say all 21 words because I firmly believe all 21 words matter.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear . . . ” The word fear* here literally means cowardice. Walking around terrified. I’m sure we all remember the cowardly lion in The Wizard of Oz. He was scared of everything that moved or didn’t. He was controlled by a spirit of fear. We’re not talking about that healthy moment of fear that alerts us to danger. We’re talking about all encompassing fear that leads to panic and rash decisions. God does not deal in controlling us with fear, and He gives us the authority, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to stop that from happening.

But we cannot just leave it there. Because the Paul goes on to tell us what God has given us. And I think these three things power, love, and a sound mind are just as important.

Power* – from the Greek, “dunamis” . . . Guess what the root word for dynamite is? Dunamis, and it means “(miraculous) power, might, and strength”. This is no human power. This is power that can only come from God. The kind of power that changes things.

Love* – from the Greek, “agape” . . . Most people know this is the God kind of love. And the only way we can love this way is through Him.

Sound Mind* – I want to focus here for just a second because here’s the thing. Yes, we are free from a spirit of fear. Yes we have dynamite power and divine love in abundance. But y’all we also have a sound mind. The Greek word used here is “sophronismos”, and it means self control, self discipline, and prudence. Have you ever taken the time to look up the word “prudence”? If you just type it into any search engine (in this case Google, but any search engine will do) this is what you get:

“the quality of being prudent; cautiousness. ‘we need to exercise prudence in such important matters'”synonyms: wisdom · judgment · good judgment · judiciousness · sagacity · shrewdness · advisability · common sense · sense · caution · cautiousness · care · carefulness · canniness · chariness · wariness · circumspection · far-sightedness · foresight · forethought · discretion · thrift · thriftiness · providence · good management · careful budgeting · economy · frugality · abstemiousness · forehandedness · sparingness antonyms: folly · recklessness

I think this is pretty self explanatory. No, we are not called to live in or be controlled by fear and panic, but there is much to be gained by using wisdom. There is much to be gained by proceeding with caution and using common sense. Saying “no” to those things which could potentially cause harm, maybe to us or maybe to those we love, is not fear, but very wise. And I believe that in times like this when the fear level is very high, but also in times when things seem to be pretty calm (relatively speaking), there is much to be said for seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And God has given us the ability to make the wisest choices.

So I will continue to pray Psalm 91 over my family. I will continue to pray that our leaders have the wisdom to guide our communities in the right direction, and we will continue to go about our daily lives as long as it seems prudent. But we will use wisdom about the situations we face. And above all we will trust God.

I’ll leave you with one more of my favorite scriptures:

“All your children shall be taught by the LORD, And great shall be the peace of your children. In righteousness you shall be established; You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; And from terror, for it shall not come near you.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭54:13-14‬

*All of the definitions, with the exception of prudence, are taken from Strong’s Concordance as listed below:

  • fear – Strong’s 1167 – Greek: “deilia”
  • power – Strong’s 1411 – Greek: “dunamis”
  • love – Strong’s 23 – Greek: “agape”
  • sound mind – Strong’s 4995 – Greek: “sophronismos”

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