Matthew 10:17, 26 “Be on your guard against men.” “So do not be afraid of them.”
There is a huge difference between being on your guard and being afraid. Some people operate on the principle of “ignorance is bliss,” and try to ignore all possible dangers. That’s not being on your guard, which Jesus specifically instructs us to do. We aren’t to take needless risks, but if God tells us to do something we aren’t to be afraid, even if the risks are huge from a human perspective. In this passage and elsewhere the Bible makes it very clear that if we are fully obedient to God we will encounter opposition, period. That’s why “going with the flow” is so dangerous. Politicians are notorious for saying and doing whatever it takes to get elected, watching opinion polls very carefully. Exceptions to that, who operate on principle rather than popularity, are worth checking out! That said, what Jesus said is far closer to home than how we evaluate politicians. We are to keep our eyes open and exercise both the intellect and the common sense the Lord gives us, but all of that must be subject to the Holy Spirit. As He told Isaiah, God’s ways are far higher than ours, (Isaiah 55:9) and sometimes we can’t see more than the next step in front of us, when we know we are surrounded by pitfalls. That’s where faith comes in! True faith will not be careless, but neither will it be afraid. We need God’s wisdom and discernment to know the difference, but He is faithful to supply all we need. (James 1:5)
As I remember frequently, it was a major breakthrough for me to realize, on more than a theoretical level, that God’s smart and I’m not. It’s not just that He’s smarter than I am, it’s that any wisdom or intellect I might have is simply on loan from Him; I cannot rely on myself. That said, I am to make full use of the intellectual capacity He has given me to discern and do His will. Not being afraid doesn’t mean tossing everything out the window! I am to have a clear-eyed assessment of my circumstances and challenges, not to see whether they can be overcome, since nothing is impossible for God, (Luke 1:37) but to know how to pray and how to cooperate with what God is doing. I am not to evaluate things on the basis of short-term results but on the basis of God’s plans for eternity. I am not to waste opportunities or resources by being careless, but I am to know that my infinite, omnipotent God has and is an infinite supply, and walk in peace and joy.
Father, thank You for this reminder. The past few days have had things that felt good and things that didn’t. Life is like that! Help me never lose sight of Christ, whatever is going on around me, so that I may lay hold of that for which Christ has laid hold of me, (Philippians 3:12) Without fear, may I be and do all that You desire and intend for me, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!