“But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 1:20)
Most of us have experienced fear at one time or another. Some of us are afraid of lightening storms. Others are afraid of heights. Then there are those who fear taking tests, public speaking, and some even fear bees.
The Bible contains many instances of people who feared one thing or another. However, in many of these instances God told them to “fear not.” Here are some “fear nots” of Christmas.
First there is a “fear not” for Zacharias. You may recall that Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth wanted to have children, but Elizabeth had been unable to get pregnant and they were now both up in age. Luke 1:13 tells us that God sent an angel to him and “the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.”
There is a “fear not” for Mary who was told that she would bear a child even though she had not known a man. Luke 1:30 reads, “And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.”
And, there is a “fear not” for the shepherds who were watching their flocks in the fields the night of Jesus’ birth … “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” (Luke 2:10)
Know that Joseph also needed a “fear not.”
Everything in Joseph’s life had been going well for him. He was engaged to the girl of his dreams. They were making plans for their future. In his eyes life couldn’t get any better.
But then, he discovered that Mary was with child, and he knew he wasn’t the father. He instantly believed that the woman he loved and planned to spend the rest of his life with had betrayed him. Suddenly his world came crashing down around him. Instead of being excited for the future, be became full of fear.
There are times in our life when we too become fearful like Joseph. We become fearful when we’ve been let down, when we worry about public opinion, and during times of mental anguish. Today I am going to share some “fear nots” for times when we feel like Joseph.
Here is a “Fear Not” for Times When We’ve Been Let Down.
When Joseph heard that Mary was pregnant, he concluded that Mary had been immoral, that she had broken her vows to him.
We often come to the wrong conclusions about what’s going on in life. For instance, when someone doesn’t speak to us, we think they’re mad at us. When we see a married person talking with someone other then their spouse, we think they’re having an affair. When someone is talking with the law, we think they did something wrong. No wonder Jesus warned us against judging others (Matthew 7:1).
What Joseph didn’t know is that while he was worrying about what Mary did and what was going to happen, God was working out a wonderful plan for his life.
What Joseph didn’t know is that Mary had not been unfaithful to him. She had not broken her vow to him. Instead, she was chosen by God to give birth to the Messiah.
It had been prophesied long before that the Messiah was to be born of a virgin. Isaiah 7:14 reads, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
What Joseph had thought was sinful was actually sacred. He just didn’t have all the facts.
Sometimes we worry too much about what other people are doing. We need to remember that God is in control. If someone is doing something wrong then God will handle it. Psalm 37 tells us to, “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.” Instead it tells us we should, “Trust in the LORD, and do good … Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” (Psalm 37:1-4)
Instead of worrying about what other people are doing wrong, we all need to pay more attention to what we are doing. To quote a well known saying, “Sweep around your own front door, before you try to sweep around mine.”
Next, There is a “Fear Not” for Time When We Worry About Public Opinion.
We learn from Scripture that after Joseph discovered Mary was pregnant that he was not willing to make Mary a public example. Joseph feared what others would do when the facts were known. After all, in those days, if a girl got pregnant before marriage she could be stoned to death. Joseph didn’t want Mary to be destroyed for her supposed sin.
Joseph was allowing public opinion to shape his future. What Joseph needed to remember was that our responsibility is to do what God wants us to do. The fear of public opinion can keep us from receiving God’s best. Proverbs 29:25 warns us, “The fear of man bringeth a snare.” But that same proverb also tells us, “whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.”
People who live their life according to God’s will do not need to fear public reaction. If you know you are doing what God wants you to do than don’t worry about what other people think or say. People are going to talk whether you are doing right or doing wrong. Just put your trust in the Lord and He shall make you safe.
Are you afraid to surrender to Christ for fear of what others will say or do? Are you afraid people will stop inviting you to their parties if they find out you are going to church? Are you afraid people will make fun of you and start calling you a “Jesus freak” if you turn your life over to the Lord? Are you afraid that people will ridicule you if they find out you would rather go to church than go with them to Wal-Mart on Sunday morning? Well, fear not! Put your trust in Jesus and He’ll calm your fears.
Finally, There is a “Fear Not” for Times of Mental Anguish.
You can just imagine that this situation must have tormented Joseph. Matthew 1:20 reads, “But while he thought on these things …” Imagine Joseph’s state of mind during this emotional crisis. He must have felt as though he would go out of his mind.
To Joseph it looked like Mary had betrayed him … it looked like the people would harm her if they found out … and it looked like his future with Mary was over. Instead his fears were based solely on a “look like” situation.
We know that Joseph’s anxiety was without foundation. What he thought would bring death instead brought deliverance. What he thought would ruin Mary’s name instead immortalized it. He thought that people would call Mary bad, but instead, to this very day they call her blessed.
Many of our fears are groundless as well. We don’t enter relationships because we fear we will be hurt. We only do things our friends approve of because we fear they will talk about us or stop being our friends if we do otherwise. We constantly worry about what will happen to our future if we get sick, lose our job, or if the economy does not recover quickly.
We imagine all kinds of bad things will happen. However, we need to learn how to “fear not.” Instead, we need to exchange our fears for faith.
Are you in need of a “fear not” today? If so, remember that God will meet you in your fears, just as he met Joseph. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to cast all our cares on the One who cares for us. Remember that Jesus told us, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)
So the next time you feel as though you have been let down, or you begin worrying about what other people are saying, or you start to feel anxious about anything, remember to “fear not.” Fear not because the Lord is always in control.
May God bless you.