Fearless Requires Courage
“11 Then the angel of the Lord came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. 12 The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!’” - Judges 6:11-12 NLT
In Judges 6 we find the Israelites going against the command of the Lord and worshipping false gods. Even Gideon’s father had an altar to Baal, which Gideon would later tear down. Because of this, God gave them over to the Midianites for a period of seven years. The Bible tells us the Midianites were so cruel that the Israelites had to make hiding places in the mountains and in caves. They lived in constant fear of their oppressors. It is in such fear that we find Gideon threshing wheat in the bottom of a wine press in an effort to hide himself and the grain from the Midianites. And here in his hiding place, constantly looking over his shoulder, the angel of the Lord appears and calls Gideon a “Mighty hero.”
I can see Gideon in that moment looking around to see who the angel was talking to, because he clearly was not a mighty hero in his own eyes. I’m glad that God calls us how he sees us and not how we see ourselves.
I would encourage you to go and read chapters 6 and 7, because I don’t have the time or space to go through it all now, but in the cliff notes version God calls Gideon to go to war against the Midianites. Gideon of course objects, and God reassures him with the same promise we find in Joshua chapter 1, “I will be with you.” So he assembles an army 32,000 strong but God says that is too many.
“You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength. 3 Therefore, tell the people, ‘Whoever is timid or afraid may leave this mountain and go home.’ So 22,000 of them went home, leaving only 10,000 who were willing to fight.” Judges 7:2-3
Left with 10,000 God again says nope, too many. And the number again shrinks to 300. So now Gideon is left with less than 1% of his original army. With less than 1 out of 10 soldiers remaining God tells Gideon to attack. But look at what he says in verse 10 of chapter 7:
10 But if you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah. 11 Listen to what the Midianites are saying, and you will be greatly encouraged. Then you will be eager to attack.”
So what did Gideon do? He went down to the camp. I had never seen that before. I had read it but it had never stood out to me. “If you’re afraid to attack.” Translation: if there’s still some fear inside of you. I think we expect the fearless life to be one without fear which brings up the question, is fearless being without fear, or simply fearing less.
A few weeks ago on a Sunday morning, I talked about the difference between bravery and courage. Bravery is acting in an absence of fear, while courage is acting in spite of fear. As we step into this fearless life together, don’t be discouraged if your fear doesn’t completely go away. Anytime God calls you to do something for Him it’s going to be something bigger than you can do on your own.
Whether it’s going into battle with 300 men, starting a Dream Center, beginning a new career, starting a ministry, witnessing to your family or friend, or simply being the spouse or parent that He is calling you to be. Whatever He is calling you into is bigger than just you and that is a scary thing.
Fearless is not an absence of fear, but an absence of the control of fear.
Lord, my prayer for myself and my prayer for my church is not “God take away our fear,” because that causes us to run to you. But rather “God help us to walk according to your promise and not according to my fear.” Rather than trying to be brave, let us be courageous. Doing what You have called us to and walking in spite of our fear. In your mighty name we pray, amen.