Picture this scenario: 7-year old Johnny starts his first day at a new school. He’s feeling shy; unsure of himself – not quite knowing where he’s supposed to go, what the rules are in this school that’s so much bigger than his last one. He is presently trying to find the school office to pay the money that his mother gave him this morning for his school lunches this coming week.
A bigger boy comes over to Johnny, looks him up and down, circles him a bit, sniggering as though at some private joke.
Johnny feels a little tingle of fear. To overcome it, he speaks; “excuse me”; he says politely, “could you tell me where the office is?” Well, one would think Johnny had told the joke of the century! How this boy laughs! Again, Johnny feels that icy prickle of fear; something is not quite right here. Suddenly, before Johnny can move to stop him, the big boy snatches the lunch money from Johnny’s hand, puts his face right up to Johnny’s and sneers “you’d better not tell anyone, or you’re dead!” Then he runs off, laughing.
For the rest of Johnny’s primary school years, that boy stole Johnny’s lunch money every Monday morning. Not only that, he bullied Johnny into doing all his homework. Johnny went for all those years with no lunch, and no time to play after school, since he had double the homework to do every day!
Johnny never told a soul, he was too afraid.
A Bully Named Fear
Doesn’t that story fill you with indignation? How dare that bully pick on Johnny! Why does Johnny put up with it? His fears were ungrounded, we say, as onlookers. What could the bully possibly have done to Johnny? His threats were just that – empty threats!
But Guess What?
Many Christians are being bullied, day in and day out in very much the same way as little Johnny – for years – and do not even realise it.
The name of the bully? Fear. His playground? Your mind!
We allow ourselves to be dominated and controlled by fear; Fear of the future, fear of getting hurt, fear of rejection, fear of failure. Fear of illness. Fear of job loss – the list could go on for pages!
Fear, if you allow it to, grips hold of you, plagues your mind, wakes you up during the night with a knots in your stomach and a pounding heart for what tomorrow might bring.
Like a playground bully, fear taunts – filling your mind with thoughts such as”where is God now?”, “You’re all on you’re own”, “No one cares about you.”
Like a sneaky bully, fear bides his time, until you have isolated yourself from your usual support structures, having listened and taken to heart the lies fear has whispered to you that you’re unloved; alone.
Then fear pounces, pinning you down, squeezing the air from your lungs till you can barely breathe. However much you struggle, you can’t move. You feel immobilised by this bully.
Like little Johnny you feel it’s easier to just give in. You’ve got to the point where you can’t remember what it was like not to have fear robbing you of so much in your life. Fear doesn’t even have to work that hard to keep you where he wants you – you’re so used to fear limiting your life that you don’t even fight it any more! And so you live the limited life you believe is your “lot“, robbed, like Johnny was robbed, by a bully named Fear.
If this is you, there is hope: There is good news! You do not have to live under the tyranny of fear one moment longer.
Robbed No More!
Every day the school canteen prepared an excellent menu. Johnny could have enjoyed lunch along with all the other children – his parents had provided the means. But he had allowed the bully to steal that money from him, so he went hungry. Day after day, for years.
How many Christians unwittingly choose to go without what God has provided for us?
Jesus said “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
God did not design you to live under fear’s tyranny. Jesus came to give you an abundant life.
I looked up the word abundant in the dictionary. Here are just a few of the definitions; fruitful, plentiful, profuse, overflowing, inexhaustible (I like that one!) generous, prolific. These are the characteristics that flow out of the heart of God. He’s the God of abundance! He’s a generous Father who lavishes his love and goodness on His children:
Galatians 5:22-23 tells us “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
“my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him…” 2 Peter 1:3
The opposite however, is true of our enemy, Satan, described by Jesus as “the thief”. He will look for every way to try to rob God’s children, using tactics such as lies and fear.
Knowing The Truth:
It’s important to know what the Bible says about who Jesus is, who you are in Christ and who your enemy, the devil is.
No Name Higher than Jesus: “Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11 There is no authority higher, no name greater, no one more powerful than Jesus. And He lives in you! “for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” John 4:4
You are More than a Conqueror! “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39
“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7
You are God’s beloved child; We see from Romans 8:31 that, as well as being more than a conqueror, you cannot be separated from God’s love, by anything or anyone. You belong to Him.
God’s presence is alway with you. “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 See also Matthew 28:20
Fear is a Liar: As for who your enemy is, we’ve already seen that he’s a thief. He’s also a liar. Jesus describes Satan as “the father of lies” in John 8:44 “When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
The devil uses fear and fear’s side-kick, anxiety, to spread his lying, fear-filled propaganda. But a bully only has power over you if you give him that power.
When you stand up to fear, from a position of fully knowing and, more importantly believing who you are in Christ, fear, like all bullies will will back down.
Make The Choice – Ditch The Victim Image
Choose to ditch the victim image. If Johnny had taken control that first day, by standing up to the bully, how differently would his primary school years have turned out? That first time the bully took his lunch money, Johnny made the split-second, subconscious decision to be a victim- and then to remain a victim.
Until you actually comply with a bully’s demands, you are simply the target of a bully. You have no choice in being a target. But being, and remaining a victim is a choice.
I know that sounds harsh, but I’m talking to myself too.
On the other hand, the moment you choose faith over fear, you take away fear’s power over you.
The moment you choose to believe what God says about you, you take your first step towards victory over fear.
Every now and then fear may come up to you and taunt you; but once you have made the decision not to allow fear to bully and dominate you, then with each subsequent encounter, you will grow in faith, confidence and in your understanding of God’s great love for you, and you will realise that the bully fear has no hold on you. And that you are, indeed, more than a conqueror, through Jesus Christ, who loves you!
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