Legitimate Fear vs. Illegitimate Fear

My middle daughter is scared that she might get sick at any moment. By sick I mean she is scared she might vomit at any moment (I hope you aren’t reading this during a meal). She is so scared in fact that she has refused to eat a meal for the past few days.

My wife and I could not figure out the problem. My wife is a great cook and puts some great meals in front of this girl. Why would she refuse them? We could not figure it out.

So I started asking questions. Come to find out she was scared because she remembered the time she vomited right after Thanksgiving last year. She woke up during the night and was sick to her stomach. The worst part of the story is that we had jambalaya for dinner the night before. Okay, enough with the details. The bottom line, she refuses to eat because she doesn’t want to feel like she did on that night. She is letting the fear of feeling bad make her feel bad. Odd I know.

Her fear might be legitimate if she was really sick. But here is the problem. When I asked her if her stomach hurt she said “Yes! Well, not so much hurt but it growls a lot.” So now we are getting somewhere. She is mistaking her fear of being sick and vomiting for her growling stomach. She is living in fear and it is perpetuating itself because the less she eats the more she feels pain and the more her brain tells her, “Oh no, if I eat I am going to get sick.”

Do you see where I am going with this? If she were really sick then she would have a valid reason to be fearful. But she is not even sick. So there is no reason to fear. Some fears are legitimate and we should consider them but most are not.

Legitimate fear is fear that leads us to make good decisions. Illegitimate fear is fear that leads to bad decisions.

Let me try to apply this. How many of you know that the Lord has called you to serve in a certain area but you have not done so because you are fearful that if you serve a) it might take up to much time b) people might think less of you for serving in that way c) you might not be good enough d) other? All of these and more are illegitimate fears that keep you from living to your full potential in the Lord. They are illegitimate because they prevent you from making a good decision. That decision is following the Lord in every area of your life.

Service to and for the Lord is an integral part of the Christian life. If you are not serving the Lord in the way that He has called you then you are certainly going to feel the uncomfortable pains that suggest something is missing. Just like my daughter feels the pains from not eating you can experience pains from not living to your full potential in the Lord. He has called you not only to know Him and His word but also to live out that relationship in service to Him and to others.

Where has He called you to serve? Confess your fear and begin serving Him today!

God Bless!