I’ve been talking about how fear causes us to make decisions we wouldn’t have made otherwise, and often those fears are masked by spirituality. Today family & money issues part 1.
But first, have you ever had this conversation…
As you read this we’ve spent the last 2 weeks tearing apart Chris’ bedroom, the existing bathroom, and my office in preparation of the making of his handicapped equipped bed and bathroom. With the work we’ve done already our house looks like a warehouse for a moving company with all the boxes stacked around.
But you become numb after awhile about where things should go and just start moving in auto-pilot. And this is how Barb and I came to the conversation below as we stood in my office staring at 12 boxes stacked almost ceiling high:
“OK John, I’m ready for you to move these boxes now.” Me: “Where to?” “Our bedroom of course, I told you already.” “Where?” (With a husbandly twist of my face to emphasize my ‘no way am I going to do that’ look). “In the bedroom!” “But where? There’s no room, you see my problem.” “No, I don’t, just listen to me and move them.” “Where? I already have to walk a path as narrow as an Olympic gymnast on the Balance Beam just to get to my underwear drawer.” “You’ll figure it out, just move them.” “No, you go and look at our bedroom and tell me where you think they’ll fit.”
(A short pause while she goes and then returns) “You’re right.” (Oh how I love to hear those words coming from my wife’s lips) “OK, we’ll put them in the living room in front of the wood stove for now, then we’ll make room in your workshop and move them there.” (Hopes dashed, visions of my tools disappearing beneath cardboard and plastic sacks until next spring’s thaw flash in my mind)
Well, I did move the boxes to in front of the wood stove temporarily, and I sacrificed my workshop still more, but to her credit she did an amazing job of sorting and stacking and arranging things to make room as I carried all those boxes out to the workshop.
But making decisions can be like that, and for our purposes imagine each option above has a fear attached to it, making us start to go in one direction, be confronted with fear, back away, try another direction and then be confronted with another fear. What to do? Where to turn? Fear of missing God is on the one hand and the fear of making a huge mistake of the devil’s doing is on the other hand.
There is natural fear – don’t step in front of a bus. And there is natural fear that has a spirit attached to it that entices the person to develop still greater fears. Don’t step in front of the bus, then stay away from bus stops because they scare me, then don’t go to bus terminals and trains stations because they scare me more because they are bigger and with more strangers, then any group of people make me scared, then I need to never go outside my door again because I am afraid of people – it all started with fear of a single bus.
Hebrews 2:15 speaking of the work of Jesus, says, “Who did…deliver them who all their lifetime were subject to bondage through the fear of death.”
Notice that the fear of death makes people subject to bondage. The Greek word ‘bondage’ is ‘douleia’, from ‘deo’ meaning ‘to bind’ and is used primarily to mean ‘the conditions of being a slave’ (Vine).
Fear of death keeps people living as slaves to fears. How?
Think of a tree with a root system, unseen, below ground - that root system is sin. The trunk is fear of death and carries ‘nutrients’ from the root of sin through the fear of death to the fruit. The fruit of this tree is all the fears out there, like a fear of spiders, fear of small spaces, fear of heights, fear of dogs, fear of going outside, fear of people, fear of snakes, fear of different races than you, fear of hospitals, fear of cancer – any fear you can think is the fruit of the tree nourished by fear of death which is fed by sin.
You can trace that fear of spiders back to the fear of death: A spider might bite you and poison you, which means a hospital, which means maybe that flesh eating bacteria, which means you could lose a limb or die.
Fear of flying in a plane? It isn’t fear of flying, it is fear of dying in a plane crash. Fear of dogs? One might bite you, it hurts…it may mean a doctor, pain, a hospital, what if it has rabies, you could die from that.
We have been delivered from the fear of death so we are not subject to the bondage of fears.
So when a spirit of fear presents itself to your emotions, it is a direct attack on the work of Jesus in your life – and being a spirit, it is your will against his. You have to learn to exert your will against fear like you would push back if someone was trying to push you off a cliff. And that doesn’t mean pray, for Jesus said to cast them out with a command using His name. Take authority over your fearful imaginations, make yourself think on the Lord, worship, praise.
We deal with fear of death by grounding ourselves in the fact we are already in eternity, already citizens of heaven. But getting that spiritual truth into our lives and hearts as a reality, takes effort to settle it once and for all – no matter what happens, I am going to heaven, therefore I am not afraid of anything, because the worst that could happen is I’d be with Jesus.
Let us use the example of someone you’ve opened your home to for a season - an adult child, sibling, friend, or anyone else you are opening your home to. Let us say they are into various sins – maybe drugs, wrong relationships, and little work.
The fear is what will happen to them if you don’t provide for them? They’d be on the street. They’d be in a shelter somewhere? But Lord, what to do about them? If I kick them out it will be my fault if they die, but I can’t afford to have them here and they disrupt my life.
The fact is however, we parents raise our children to become self-sufficient. Any person able of body and mind should be taking care of themselves. There is a time and place to receive someone in your home to help them get on their feet - don’t get me wrong - but Jesus did say only give 1 extra coat, not your whole closet, and to walk just 1 extra mile, not a marathon with them.
If you obey fear some will bring themselves to financial and emotional hurt by not making them grow up. If they aren’t paying their own way after you’ve walked that extra mile and given them that 1 extra coat, then you switch from the giver of grace to the enabler of sin, by enabling their dependence on you instead of God.
Masked in Christian ‘love’, you may be actually keeping that person from growing up as a person and a person in the Lord. As I said last week, usually when we are comfortable there isn’t a lot of growth, and when we grow there often isn’t a lot of comfort. Sometimes you have to ignore the fears and make them uncomfortable so they will grow - and tell a person who you’ve walked that extra mile with them and given them the shirt off your back, and now it is time for them to walk on their own and earn their own clothes.
The answer is to go through fear – and let – maybe ‘make’ is a better word – that person stand on their own 2 feet. At the very least they can pay their proportion of the rent, utilities, and their own gas money while with you – make a plan, hold them to it. Something like ‘By week 2 you will have a job, by week 4 you will have your first paycheck and I get 1/2 to reimburse me for your room and board.
Yes, you may have to help them until they get paid – but if after awhile they either don’t have a job or aren’t up and out of the house by 8am treating finding a job as if that were a job, and not coming home from filling out applications until after 5pm each night, you have to draw the line.
Fear will use you – a demon of fear will use you – to keep them babies, dependent and immature. Going through the fear to stop enabling laziness or addictions is hard, you feel horrible, but it must be done.
You see, God gives us opportunities, but we have to decide to take them. Fear prevents us from presenting God’s opportunities for growth and provision to a person we are temporarily helping. You are actually standing in God’s way, fighting against Him the whole time, while wondering where His answer is. We are often both the answer and the problem.
Well, we will pick it up at this point next week…hope this was a blessing, until then, Blessings!