One of the gifts that 2020 has given us is the opportunity to wrestle with what we fear. From the pandemic, to economic struggles, to weather phenomenon, to social and political unrest, we are witnessing a world plagued by fear. And in this environment, we are seeing the emergence of a new kind of cult — what we call the “Cult of Caution”.
Now, it is important to note that there is a difference between caution and fear. Caution is a natural response that the Lord has given us. If your child runs into a busy street, caution would incite a reaction to help protect the one you love. However, a lifestyle of caution (or fear) is when you live in a state of paranoia that your child’s life is always at risk.
Do you see and feel the difference?
Caution is there for your protection. Fear robs you of life. The danger occurs when a lifestyle of caution allows fear to become your chief navigational device.
That isn’t as an indictment, nor is it a condemnation. Rather, it is an challenge for us to consider the motives and narratives that drive our thoughts and actions.
The Cult of Caution
For the person who calls themselves a “Christian”, fear is not a valid form of motivation or wisdom. In fact, fear is the greatest deterrent to you fully experiencing God and living in the fullness for which you were created.
In his letter to his protege, Timothy, the Apostle Paul writes:
“For God gave us, not a spirit of fear (timidity), but of power and love and self-control (sound mind).” — 2 Timothy 1:7
The Apostle John says it like this:
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” —1 John 4:18
Fear is a weapon of the enemy that opposes the love of God. Therefore, we cannot operate with fear or from fear because it isn’t something God has given us. The danger of caution is when it becomes a lifestyle of fear.
As we consider how the “Cult of Caution” manifests itself in our lives, read this except below:
“If caution is a disease, there are as many strains as there are people, but the most common three contagions are the fear of death, the fear of poverty and the fear of the opinions of man. We can trace almost every aspect of worry, doubt, dismay, despair, anxiety, foreboding and concern, back to these three culprits.” — Kevin Adams, Learning to Feel the Word
As you wrestle with distinguishing between healthy caution and unhealthy fear, consider which of the three great fears you encounter the most:
- The Fear of Death
- The Fear of Poverty
- The Fear of the Opinions of Man
Inheriting the Promise
In the book of Genesis, the Lord speaks to Abram:
“Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and you father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him…” — Genesis 12: 1-4
If you go back one chapter you see that Abram and his father, Terah, left their homeland, Ur of the Chaldeans, for the land of Canaan. What’s interesting is that Abram had a brother, Nahor, who did not go with them. Even Abram’s father, Terah, stopped along the way and settled in Haran.
The scripture doesn’t say exactly what kept Terah and Nahor from following all the way to Canaan, but it’s possible that fear played a role in their decision. When it comes to following the Lord, our reasoning and logic often keeps us from His fullness.
The point is, Nahor and Terah didn’t inherit the promise. Abram did.
“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going…and so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.” — Hebrews 11:8,12
As we step into this new season where so many of our traditions and institutions are being shaken, we have to consider if we are willing to inherit the promise God has given us, or if we’re going to allow fear to keep us from going forward.
Are You Ready to Lead?
We are in unprecedented times. But these times present us with a great opportunity — an opportunity to lead. This is an opportunity to break free from the “Cult of Caution” and step into God’s kingdom purposes here and now. That requires that you release the fear of death, the fear of poverty and the fear of the opinions of man. The good news is, once you’re free, you’re free indeed.
“Keep in mind that just as God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, that no wise decision can be made from or motivated by that fear. True wisdom begins and ends with the fear of or utmost reverence for the Lord. And man’s wisdom begins and ends with the fear of everything but the Lord.” — Kevin Adams, Learning to Feel the Word
If you struggle with fear or if you feel plagued by the environment around you, remember that you are called to live by what is unseen, not what is seen.
In closing, consider this question:
Are you simply quoting the heroes of faith, or are you willing to actually emulate them?