Would you describe yourself as a courageous person? Or does fear have a grip on your life in one area or another? Of course, healthy apprehension keeps us from making unwise choices or taking foolish risks. But fear can leave us in a state of perpetual anxiety or keep us from fulfilling God’s will for our lives.
•What unhealthy fears do you have?
•How do your fears limit or hinder you from fully obeying God?
The Old Testament judge Gideon was initially timid, but he learned to put his trust in the Lord. Despite his dread of the enemy, He chose to obey God and became a courageous–and victorious–warrior. Let’s take a look at five principles found in Gideon’s story about overcoming fear.
Read Judges 6 and 7.
1. Sometimes fear is related to sin.
Sometimes we feel discontent or anxious because of sin in our lives.
•In what ways were the Israelites being tormented (Judg. 6:1-5)?
•What did the angel of the Lord instruct Gideon to do (vv. 25-26)?
•Given this instruction, name one way the people of Israel disobeyed God (vv. 8-10).
•At this point, what evidence points to the fact that Gideon was still timid (v. 27)?
•What happened after he destroyed the altar to Baal (v. 34)?
The sins of worry, impurity, greed, unforgiveness, and many others can open the door to fear. Although believers in Jesus are always indwelt by the Holy Spirit, clearing our conscience of known sins enables us to walk in His power in a fresh, new way.
•Are any of your worries the fruit of sin? If so, take a few moments to confess and repent.
2. Our lack of courage can enable us to operate in God’s strength.
The Lord works through people who allow Him to use their weaknesses for His glory.
•When the angel of the Lord appeared to him, what was Gideon doing (v. 11)?
•What is ironic about God’s greeting to Gideon (v. 12)?
•How did Gideon see himself (v. 15)?
•Explain the principle the apostle Paul discovered (2 Cor. 12:9-10).
•Can you relate to experiencing the Lord’s power in your weakness, especially when you have felt afraid? Give a specific example if possible.
3. Discovering God’s will is an important part of overcoming fear.
The angel of the Lord told Gideon that he had been chosen to lead the people in battle against Midian and that God would give him victory (vv. 14, 16). However, Gideon wanted to make sure this was indeed the Lord talking to him.
•What was the first sign Gideon asked of God (vv. 17-21)?
•What two other signs did he request (vv. 36-40)?
Gideon overcame his fear, in part because he asked for signs that God was indeed speaking to him. But the leader’s approach described in verses 36-40 is not recommended anywhere else in Scripture.
While no one should stipulate how the Father is to confirm His promises, we certainly can ask Him to make His will clear to us.
•When deciding about something that frightens you, how do you confirm what God’s will is?
•How can hearing from the Lord about a fearful situation bring inner peace?
4. Humanly speaking, God’s path to peace may not make sense at first.
•How are the army and camels of Midian described (Judg. 6:5)?
•Why did God not allow all of Israel’s army to fight the battle (v. 7:2)?
•After the Lord eliminated the men who were afraid to fight and the men who lapped water like dogs, how many were left to fight the battle (v. 7:7)?
The world–and sometimes fellow believers–won’t always understand why we obey the Lord even when His commands defy common wisdom.
•Why do you think He chooses to work through actions that, humanly speaking, seem foolish?
5. When we obey God despite our fears, He will fight our battles for us.
•How had the Lord already worked within the enemy camp (vv. 13-14)?
•What happened when Gideon and his small army blew their trumpets, uncovered their torches, and shouted “a sword for the Lord and for Gideon” (vv. 19-22)?
•What remained for the Israelites to do (vv. 23-25)?
•Although the Israelites mistakenly credited Gideon with the victory (Judg. 8:22), what should they have learned as a result of this battle?
•When you have obeyed God despite your fears, how did He show Himself strong on your behalf? Be specific.
Prayer: Father, thank You for the promise that I don’t have to be afraid. You are always with me. I pray that I would learn to magnify You and let my fears fall into perspective. Help me keep a clean conscience and meditate on Your marvelous promises instead of giving in to anxiety. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Note: If you are suffering debilitating fears that prevent you from carrying out everyday tasks or result in panic attacks, you may want to seek professional help from a pastor or Christian counselor.