"A Good Fear"
November 8, 2007
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28
Now that Halloween is over, I’d like to introduce you to David Zald. David, a psychology professor who lives in Nashville, takes Halloween seriously. How seriously? David puts skeletons in the trees, puts out machines, which surround his house with fog, and he has scary objects move around when motion sensors detect the approach of children coming to his door for candy. Oh, I forgot, last year David dressed like the devil.
David likes Halloween. Well, actually, David likes fear. In his laboratory, he studies how adults react to fear; at Halloween he watches how children deal with the same subject.
In an interview given to the Associated Press, David says children, in their desire to get candy from him learn to control their fear. David maintains the ability to control fears is a very healthy lesson for our children to learn. To which I say, “Maybe.”
I don’t want my grandchildren to want candy so much they step into the car of some stranger who is offering them a giant candy bar. I don’t want the little ones I see riding the bus to lose their fear of what unknown and illegal drugs can do to them. Sometimes fear can be a good thing, a very good thing indeed.
That’s what Jesus was saying in our text for today. He wanted people to know that fear isn’t necessarily bad if it is directed against the right person. When Jesus said that, He wasn’t encouraging people to be afraid of snakes, spiders, flying, or heights, and He wasn’t saying His followers should be terrified of speaking in public or being alone in the dark.
Jesus said we should be afraid of the One who can destroy our bodies and souls in hell.
Amazingly, the devil seems to be the one person who never appears on anyone’s list of fears. I’ve met numerous people who are afraid of terrorists, but who never give a moment’s consideration to the devil who is trying to destroy them. I’ve listened to many people who are afraid of a nuclear war or the outbreak of an illness, which can kill millions, but the thought of Satan – that only makes them smile. To them, the devil is a joke.
Our Savior thought differently. So we might be saved from Satan, the Lord was born, lived, died, and rose. Now, all who believe on Jesus as their Lord are forgiven and free. Because of Jesus, we no longer need to cringe at the devil’s approach; we just might be wise to keep our distance from Him. That’s a healthy fear.
THE PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, accept my thanks for the great grace You have given to me in the Savior. I give thanks that death has lost its sting, and Satan’s stranglehold on my soul has been broken. Now I ask that you will, all my days, deliver me from evil. In Jesus’ Name I ask it. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries