“The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion out there! If I go outside, I might be killed!” (Proverbs 22:13, NLT)
Today’s proverb isn’t what it seems. On the surface, it looks like someone allowing their fears to control their actions. They perceive a risk and are shaken by their fears. Risks are real, and our fears (both rational and irrational) are real. Whether we’ve properly assessed our risk and the basis for our fears, that’s a different consideration altogether. While that may be a valuable conversation to have, it is not the point of this proverb. So, what is?
The real point is using a real or imagined risk to avoid doing something. We do it all the time. The Holy Spirit or our conscience prods us to do something or say something. We hesitate because it is outside of our comfort or touches a fear. Perhaps I’ll look the fool. Or maybe they’ll reject me. Or perhaps it will fail and make things worse. We all do it; I’ve done it and still struggle with it at times.
So, how can we avoid becoming the lazy person offering lame excuses? Or, to ask it another way, how can we become more pliable and accepting of the Holy Spirit’s nudges? As I see it, the problem is that our fears are greater than our loves.
Consider this from 1st John. “We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:16–19, NASB95) As we grow in our love of God and our love for one another, fear is pushed aside. Even our greatest fear of being rejected by God on the day of judgment.
The answer then to the question above about becoming more accepting of the Holy Spirit’s nudges is to grow in our love. Our fears may remain, the risks may be real, there may be a very real lion outside the door. But love, our love for God, and our love for one another propels us through those fears. In all practicality, our fears may be realized. We may fail or be rejected or look the fool. But more often than not, we learn that our fears were unfounded, and we were able to make a difference.
Let love overcome your fears.