Really, fear is selfishness. We are concerned too much about what others think of us – how am I doing? Will I fit in? Will they laugh at me? Will others see my failure and take pleasure in it?
Because fear is selflessness the release of fear comes through otherness. This is at least one reason why the biblical dictum is true – "Perfect love casts out fear." A change in mindset from that of thinking primarily of one's self to that of thinking primarily of others will cause fear to be expelled from our life. We throw our fears away and we throw our love - and God's love, out to others.
Of course there are times and occasions when we do well to be afraid. It’s why we have a sympathetic system – the capacity for ‘fight or flight’ response. Sometimes we should indeed: ‘Be afwaid! Be very afwaid.’
But you know I’m not writing about that.
Both fear and faith create futures based on present perspectives. It can very well be true that "what I greatly fear will happen to me." (See the words of Job in the Old Testament book of that name.) Fear can lead to paralysis whereas faith leads to productivity.
Instead of wondering what others think of us we begin to think and wonder about the lives of others. What are the others’ needs and wants? What are the situations in their lives to which we may respond in sharing ourselves, our presence (and our presents), our gifts and abilities, our inspiration, help and resources?
No doubt, this principle is one that will help in the enriching of others, even from a business and productivity perspective, and it may well also result, as a by-product, in one's own personal fulfilment and enrichment, though again the latter is not the motivator but only the secondary result, perhaps with rewards only to be realized in Eternity.
Again: - "Perfect love casts out fear." This provides the same perspective as of St. Paul in his wonderful commentary on love in first Corinthians 13. Notice how most of the statements that define what love is show the perspective of otherness rather than that of selfishness, self-centredness and self-concern.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
The ministry of encouragement also comes from the perspective of giving to others rather than of being only concerned about our own interests. Encouragement is wrapped around the word courage and it is true that sometimes courage is called for as we give ourselves - and what we have to offer, away to someone else.
Courage and cost: - In the New Testament accounts, it costs – perhaps a great deal, we do not fully know, for Barnabas, a respected, encouraging leader in the Early Church. He sacrificed his land and its value, giving partial proceeds to the Church’s establishment and care. It must have cost in another way for him to stand up for Saul, against the mindset no doubt primarily of fear of the church in Jerusalem when this former persecutor of Jesus' People sought to join them, but they were reluctant to allow him to do so.
There was personal cost in Barnabas’ journey to Antioch to find perspective and purpose in what God was doing there and then to return to Jerusalem to try to explain to the 'mother Church' what he'd seen and what he thought it meant - to perhaps an incredulous body of Christian leaders.
It must've been difficult for Barnabas, in his desire to keep on encouraging hi nephew John Mark, to stand up for him against his old friend and colleague Saul (now called Paul), who was now adamant that he would not have Mark journey again with them in mission, due to his too-early return home, perhaps in cowardice and fear, on their first trip. And to think, Paul had been the one Barnabas had helped enter and become established in the Christian faith and ministry, the one he’d sought out to assist in teaching and building up the fledgling church at Antioch.
When we begin to think of others more than ourselves and respond to their needs and to the opportunities to serve them, perhaps often even before looking to and after our own concerns, then we show that we have heard and are seeking to live in the knowledge of our Lord’s directive and encouragement – that we ‘seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.’
When we love God and our neighbour as we love ourselves, we will find our own selves blessed, fulfilled and growing in the purposes of God. And fear will be accordingly and proportionately dispelled.