A Healthy Fear

It’s a brand new year! And we wish to face it with optimism and hope. Whatever our destination may be, we would like to get there. That’s the definition of success.

Life is like a car running on four wheels. For the car to successfully get to its destination efficiently, all four wheels need to be running in tip-top shape. If one is flat or is outright missing, then chances are – you won’t get to your target location in time, or might even have a fatal accident as a result.


The 4 wheels of life’s car are:

  1. Competence (logic)
  2. Incorruptibility (morality)
  3. Love (motivation)
  4. Fear (survival)

In this article, let’s focus on fear. In the first place, why should fear be a pillar of life when in fact a lot of self-help books out there and even the Bible teach that we should rid ourselves of this largely “negative” emotion?

Well, there are various types of fear, and some types are actually healthy.

Reverential Fear

When we were children, we would be cautious to abide by house rules for fear of our parents, because we revere and respect them and so as not to make them upset.

At work, we highly esteem our customers and our boss. We put our best into our job to ensure they are pleased with our output, because we value them who enable us to have bread on our table.

Fear of Consequences

We fear the harmful effects our actions may bring. What we do can damage one’s self, others, or the environment. It is a survival instinct. We also fear to be put to shame and damage our reputation.

As school, we fear the strict teacher, who may not accept our paper if we miss out on the deadline. And failing the subject due to a missing paper could lead to a delayed graduation.

Love and Fear

Healthy fear should work in combination with love. An analogy would be the oppositely behaving forces that an electron (negative charge) experiences between a positive and a negative plate of an applied battery. The electron is attracted to the positive plate (opposite charges attract), but is repelled by the negative. Similar opposing forces act in magnetism (North and South poles attract, but repel otherwise).


Love attracts us toward our desired goal, while fear repels us from what can be harmful to us.

I love my work because I enjoy it, but I also work hard to meet deadlines for fear of getting fired. I love to eat because I enjoy the variety of flavors/cuisines, but I need to control calorie intake and also exercise for fear of becoming obese and getting an ailment.

Who to Fear

Other than people in authority and harmful results of our actions, there is one person who we should fear the most. Proverbs 9:10 says “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

God who holds and controls all things from the furthest galaxies to the smallest bacterium in your body is the one Being we should fear, respect and honor the most. In fact, our fear of anything or anybody should significantly dwarf our fear of the Creator and Savior of our souls.

The greatest fear is not of death, but being cast down into the lake of fire for all eternity, separated from the one Person who loves us the most. The Judge of our souls is the final authority, and our state for all eternity is the final consequence. Our fear of him should be as big as our love for him.

Success in our journey on this earth can be found by balancing the four aspects of life – the four wheels that keep our vehicle of life going. All love without fear can get us killed. All fear without love can lead to paranoia and depression.

Let’s face the New Year with love and excitement, while remembering also that a healthy fear will spare us a lot of heartaches and pain.