“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. -Luke 12:4-7
When I was a boy and one of our friends hurt themselves, we had a trick to help them with the pain, “Hey, do you want me get the pain in your finger to go away?” And then we would punch them in the arm so that their arm would hurt more than their finger, thus making them forget the pain in their finger.
Humans naturally pay attention to whatever is causing, or has the ability to cause, the most pain. Jesus knows this, so he reminds us all that the one who can cause us the most pain is actually God himself.
While this world can only kill our bodies, God can kill our bodies and then through us into hell for eternity (Luke 12:5). Jesus was not shy in talking about the fear of God because he knows that people focus on what they fear. Jesus knows the best thing for us is to spend our lives serving and focusing on God, therefore he knows if we are to do this we must fear God the most.
In this same vein, you can instantly find out what you fear by paying attention to what you are focusing on. If you are focusing on your finances, what you will eat, what you will wear, your fragile health – then you fear the earthly circumstances this life confronts us with. The remedy to this is to fear God more. The more you realize how powerful God is and how dangerous it is to rebel against him, the more attention you are going to give in trying to not rebel.
As essential as it is to fear God, Jesus is also not shy in pointing out the great love of God. Jesus said that God has not forgotten about the life of one bird that is only worth one penny in human currency (Luke 12:7). Since we are far more valuable than birds, we should take heart to know that God is watching over us, ready to supply our needs as they arise.
To overcome the fear this earthly life provides, Jesus gives us two remedies. First we are to fear God more than anything else because he deserves it and you focus on what you fear. Second, we are to embrace that God is unbelievably loving and perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).
Only when we fear him and embrace his love will we be able to not fear everything else.