On the subject of fear, we all have it, but is it phobos, or is it a yare’? It makes a difference.
Phobos is the original greek word for the fear found in 1 John 4:18. which says “There is no fear (phobos) in love. But perfect love drives out fear (phobos), because fear (phobos) has to do with punishment. The one who fears, (who has phobos,) is not make perfect in love.” This fear we all know and recognize. This greek word is defined as terror or alarm, and the part I find the most eye-opening: withdrawing or fleeing for feeling inadequate, or to avoid because of dead fright. Phobos.
In 2 Timothy 1:7 We are told clearly that “God did not give us a spirit of fear (deilia) but one of power, love, and self-discipline.” The original word used here for fear is deilia which means timidity or cowardice. Ouch. Both deilia and phobos are the types of fear that control us, keep us sidetracked; off-center, out of balance; preoccupied; and therefore….unhappy and disgruntled with the world and the people around us. Do you see any connections?
On the other hand yare’, a wholly different kind of fear found in Deuteronomy 10:12 seems to be one that drives us forward; motivates us; spurs us on to do the right thing; to embrace healthy risk, Hope, and goodness: “And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear (yare’) the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?”
The first, phobos, is the one that most all of us fall victim to-I don’t care what religion you profess, even no religion at all. We all fall victim to phobos. I mean these are the original Greek and Hebrew definitions for two distinctly different types of fears, particularly as they are used in this context, and the ancient writers of scripture apparently found them useful in making sure their readers understood the types of behavior characteristic of both phobos and yare’.
Phobos vs. Yare‘
I just finished a 15 day overseas trip with my youngest daughter Katie. The tradition started when my oldest daughter Shelby graduated from high school and requested a “mom and daughter” trip. She chose England. My middle daughter chose France and Katie chose Ireland. What does this all have to do with phobos you ask?
Well, a lot really.
I think I am guilty as charged of posting a plethora of pictures when traveling, perhaps presenting the idea that “this is all so carefree and easy.” Tripping across the ocean alone with my child, renting a car and driving on the left (the wrong) side of the road; negotiating foreign lands, cultures, ferries, boats, planes, uncharted territories and situations. I often feel overwhelmed with the responsibility of being the sole caretake for my girl-protecting her from harm’s way were it indeed to come our way. I pour over the details in pre-planning stages, then when we are in the eye of the storm, I reexamine, every. single. night. our itinerary for the next day. Truth. I sometimes lose sleep (not just from jet lag) and have a lot of anxiety.
That is when I realize that the phobos of 1 John 4:18 is taking hold of me, and I need to tell it to stand down. Because the almighty God is the house. I know this specifically because 1 Corinthians 3:16 is explicit about where the Almighty dwells….in me. I am the house.
When I trade phobos in for yare’, He moves into first place, and my phobos is suppressed by the only thing it can be, yare’. Yare’ is phobos’ greatest enemy. Yeah we need to name our fear.
Life is full of bumps in the road, to put it mildly right? Death, murder, loss, bad diagnosis, betrayal, disappointment, depression, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of opportunities for us to be 100% consumed by a phobos kind of fear. Yes! But we have 100% reason to not be either. We have all the more reason to be covered with a yare’ kind of fear.
If you were to take a poll of 100 people and asked them which emotion consumes them the most. Which one takes up residence in their hearts and minds, I think phobos would be the clear winner. Yes, it wins over all of them: jealousy, anger, hurt, sadness, joy, disgust…because I believe phobos is at the root of all of these emotions. I belive that phobos is the common denominator among all of our negative emotions. Just as yare‘ is perhaps the common denominator among all of our positive emotions.
Fear (phobos) of inferiority or insignificance can cause jealousy.
Fear (phobos) of commitment can cause loneliness.
Fear (phobos) of loss can cause depression .
Fear (phobos) of failure can cause timidity.
Fear (phobos) of the darkness can cause hopelessness.
On the other hand,
Fear (yare’) of God, can lead to understanding.
Fear (yare’) of God can lead to wisdom.
Fear (yare’) of God can lead to Hope.
Fear (yare’) of God can lead to Joy.
So what can we do about phobos? Capture every single thought that is riddled with phobos and trample it into a million fragments under your feet into nothingness. Every thought or pretention that sets itself up as truth-but yet it is not-let it disintegrate into the same darkness from which it came. (2 corinthians 10:5) If you need to, write your phobos on a piece of paper, and rip the paper to shreds. It is a thought, a contention, a fear- a phobos- whose only purpose is to separate you from your God, from yare’.
Yare’ advances us. Phobos puts us into retreat.
Yare’ puts phobos in its place. Yare’ tells phobos in no uncertain terms to stand down. My God is in the house.