When you think through the “do’s and don’ts” of the Bible, I’m guessing one or more of the following come to mind:
- Do not lie
- Do not steal
- Love your enemies
- Do not murder
- Do unto others as you’d have them do to you
- Love your neighbor as yourself
All these are certainly Biblical and applicable today. But surprisingly, none of them are repeated with all that much frequency. And certainly none of them come close to the repetition of the most popular command in the Bible. You ready? Drumroll…
“Do not be afraid.”
That’s right, “do not be afraid” appears in the NIV 70 times.
This doesn’t include variants such as “fear not,” “do not fear,” and the like.
There are several interesting things about this. First of all, the Bible isn’t saying, “There is nothing scary so you don’t need to be scared.” Let’s be real… life is scary. That, however, does NOT mean we need to be scared of it.
Secondly, the command “do not be afraid” more often than not, is followed by an action that God is or will be taking. Here are a few such examples:
- “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.” (Exodus 14:13)
- “Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” (Deuteronomy 3:22)
- “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.” (Joshua 10:8)
- “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)
Another interesting thing is that 10 times “do not be afraid” is followed by “do not be discouraged.”
Have you stopped to consider that being afraid and being discouraged are related? After all, the opposite of “discouraged” is “encouraged.” And encouraged means to be filled with courage!
Why should we be filled with courage? Because as Christians, the Lord is with us and in us. And He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.
Finally, notice that “do not be afraid” is not a suggestion. God doesn’t say, “If you don’t want to be afraid, that’s an option. Either way. Be afraid or don’t. It’s up to you.” No, it’s a command. He is giving an instruction on how to approach the circumstance. By default, approaching it in a different manner would be a form of disobedience.
As a personal trainer, I talk to a lot of people who are discouraged about their fitness. I can understand. Fitness can be hard. It can be frustrating. It can even be a little bit scary.
This is partly why I gave the subtitle “Spiritual Encouragement for Your Fitness Journey” to my first book, The Body Tithe Devotional. I want people to approach their fitness from a place of confidence and boldness in spite of how daunting the journey might be.
I also know that people get discouraged, not just in fitness, but in life, because they rely too much on their own strength rather than the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. We act out of impulse rather than allowing God to work in the situation.
Or we go to the other extreme, masking our fear by overanalyzing, waiting for that elusive “perfect time” to start doing X, rather than just doing it.
With so many frightening situations constantly popping up in our lives, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that God has given this command so many times throughout scripture.
We need to be reminded time and time again.
We need to hear it over and over.
We need it pounded into our hearts and minds.
My challenge to you is to start believing it.
After all, if God is for us, who can be against us?