Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, He’s the One to fear. NLTLuke 12:4-5
Now we start a series of seemingly unconnected units. As we work through them one by one, be looking for ways in which they go together.
Take note too, that Matthew includes several of these elements but not in the same order. Others are Luke’s material only.
As you can see from the above comparative columns, there is one section where Luke (12:2-9) is tracking with Matthew (10:27-32). The other verses either do not match at all or have been significantly rearranged. This sequence from “what is whispered in the dark will be proclaimed in the light”. . . as far as . . .”he who confesses me before men” were most likely all linked directly by Christ Himself. The other elements have either been compiled by the gospel writer concerned. Or Luke has more likely preserved the block of material Jesus said at one particular time, while Matthew has scattered the sayings to various parts of his gospel. Whatever the conclusion you draw, we will now look at each segment one by one.
I love the way the NLT starts this segment. Jesus begins, “I tell you friends, [philoi]” (–from the verb phileo – to love.) So in other words, beloved friends, loved ones, or as translated here in the NLT, “DEAR friends”…with the emphasis on Dear. You special loved ones, disciples, have the right perspective on fear. Much hypocrisy is driven by fear. We create masks when we don’t think who we are measures up to another’s view of us. We keep certain parts of our personalities from view because they may not be acceptable to the masses, or more to the point, those we love. Hypocrisy is often driven by fear. Don’t let your fear of something or someone drive you to wearing masks. We are most free when we are free to be who we really are on the inside. Let the inside out.
Many people with a pharisaical spirit want to squeeze you into their mould. Don’t let them. Stand up for what you know to be right. They love conformity but God made you unique. Express your uniqueness. The only One we should fear is God Himself. There is a positive fear of God and there is a negative fear of God. The positive fear leads us to reverence. Knowing He is totally and utterly AWESOME ought to fill you with the desire to please Him in every way. The negative side of fearing God is found when we realize how far short of His glory we are, and that makes us want to slink away into the corner, for fear of the ultimate rejection by God. But the truth is He knows all about you anyway and He understands and accepts you. Nothing you say or do can change that. He loves you totally. But He loves you so much that He can’t leave you trapped in your fear. All He wants you to do is to be honest and confess your shortcomings to Him. He knows them anyway. This was a big problem with the Pharisees. They sought to substitute their contrived rules and regulations, for reality. That’s religion; it’s not Christianity. Simply tell God where you are at, and then let Him make the changes. That was Adam’s first mistake when he lost the image of God and knew evil in a way God never intended – experientially. Rather than take responsibility, he blamed everyone else around him. God just wanted him to ‘fess up’.
That’s the other amazing thing about all this! Remember Romans 2:4 – “Don’t you know the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” All God wants is for you to be honest with Him about yourself and ask for His help to change. Some of you reading this are locked in fear in extreme ways because you fear for your life, even at the hands of a loved one: husband, family member or friend. That person is not your friend or even genuinely loves you, if they don’t allow you to be who you are on the inside and accept you unconditionally. Seek help.
Physical death is not the ultimate enemy. Jesus has taken that death away. Oh, I am not saying you won’t die physically. Because the Bible doesn’t say you won’t die physically. That was the devil’s big con. Has God said, “You will die?” “You won’t die,” said the devil. No, he was right, Adam didn’t die physically when he lost the glory of God. But God wasn’t meaning that. The worst thing is to experience what the Bible calls “the second death”. Being cut off from God for eternity. That is why Jesus was so opposed to the Pharisees’ hypocrisy, because pretending can get you cut off from God forever. Think about it. Fear Him who decides your fate eternally, rather than someone who can take your temporal life on this planet.
Time to get things in the right perspective.
If I tell you who I am, you might not like who I am, and that’s all I have.John Joseph Powell
Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is You’er than You.Dr. Seuss
Refuse to live trapped in fear or in the small dimensions of a self-centred world! Learn to be you!Anon
When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of not fitting with the crowd.Ian Vail (with apologies to C. S. Lewis)
We fear the consequences of confession because we’ve yet to experience the consequences of concealment.Andy Stanley
Love takes off masks that we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.James Baldwin