Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” (Matt. 5-7) contains much about fear and the way it affects us, especially as it pertains to our interactions with each other. And boy does fear do a tap dance on the way we relate to those around us.
Think about Jesus’ words:
Simply let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No”; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. (Matt. 5:37)
Just “yes” or “no.” That’s ridiculous, isn’t it? No vindication? No retaliation? Jesus, are you suggesting I do away with my favorite hobby: justification and rationalization? Could you do this? Have you ever even tried? I cannot seem to pull it off.
But Jesus is drilling down much deeper.
Imagine the kind of character it would take to be comfortable with a simple “yes” or a simple “no.” When attacked, confronted, or accused, imagine the conviction of courage to respond with such a simple reply. Are you kidding me? One would have to have placed his trust in something other than “what others think about me,” that is for sure.
And Jesus points out that anything beyond this simple response comes from the evil one. Therefore anything that drives us to react, and for me it is typically to overreact, is based in fear. Fear is the primary tool of the evil one. Satan has little need to advance beyond the simple tactic of fear. It is effective enough.
But Jesus isn’t done.
But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. (Matt. 5:39)
The Greek expression, “strikes you on the right cheek,” refers to an insult…not a fighting blow. Okay, so you’ve been insulted. Can you receive this insult without any need to react? This would require trusting in someone other than me, wouldn’t it?
If I am controlled by my feelings, I simply cannot heed Jesus’ words, and my master will be fear. But if I listen to Jesus and trust the facts about which He is so passionate, Jesus will be my master, and his peace will prevail. Jesus tells us we cannot serve two masters. Our feelings tell us which master is controlling us: the fear of feelings, or the peace of Jesus’ perfect love.