“Fear God” is a commandment, not a suggestion. So fear in itself can’t be all that bad, can it? Well, that depends.
“Fear not” is usually the first thing an angel spoke to a human, for good reason no doubt.
“There is nothing to fear but fear itself,” said President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his first Inauguration speech, March 4, 1933. I had thought he was talking about war, but he was actually speaking of the Great Depression then afflicting the United States and much of the world.
Winston Churchill said this about fear — and courage:
“Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision.”
“Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it has been said, it is the quality which guarantees all others.”
“Without courage, all other virtues lose their meaning.”
Nearly all places in the Old and New Testaments, the English word fear comes from root words that mean fright, terror; being afraid; also to be in awe of someone, primarily of God.
In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, however, fear is from the Greek word deilia, which means cowardice; timidity: being so afraid of what might happen, that you don’t do what you know you should do. It’s a powerful temptation, to cave in to fear.
However, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
Considering what had happened to Paul for preaching the gospel and the assignment he was giving Timothy — to do the same things Paul had been doing — I can understand why Paul needed to encourage Timothy.
There is definitely an answer to both Fear and Cowardice: Courage.
After Moses died, Joshua needed courage. (Read Joshua Chapter 1.) God came and spoke directly to Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed (broken down in fear), for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
David and his men returned home one day and found their wives and children gone and everything they owned burned to the ground by their enemy. His men were ready to stone David but David “encouraged himself in the Lord.” Instead of being dismayed, he went to God for instructions, and received them: pursue the enemy and recover all. Which he did. (See I Samuel 30:6 ff.)
First, what is courage? To be hardened, determined, resolute; holding fast to your faith, carrying out your assignment despite the circumstances. It’s a decision, not feeling.
Then, how do you get it? From God himself, through His indwelling spirit and His word.
“Be strong in the Lord – be empowered through your union with Him; draw your strength from Him – that strength which his boundless might provides.” (Ephesians 6:10, Amplified Version)
The spirit of fear is real. He’s a thief. If he can frighten us into doing nothing, we’ll be useless to anyone. He comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, if he can. (John 10:10) Make sure he can’t. He has only whatever power people give him. Let’s don’t give him any.
God has given us His own spirit, providing his own ability and courage to use that ability.