Here is another installment in the series of articles by Father Al Durrance.
FEAR AND THE ROOTS OF SIN
I am aware of the Scripture that says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but I am also aware of the Scripture that says perfect love casts out fear. If anyone fears, they are not yet perfected in love. I am also aware that God has called us to a holiness which His love, not fear provides.
Fear is the awareness of the impossibility of our pleasing God through our own ability to obey Him. Fear is the realization that we need something more than we have. Fear is the bondage in which we were born. We are set free by Holy Spirit. We are not to fall back into bondage to fear, we have received the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry, “Abba! Father!”
Fear may drive us to seek God, but it is not to be a continuing part of the process. It has served its purpose as soon as we are introduced to God’s unconditional love that He has prepared for us in Jesus Christ, His Son. We find that the answer to our inadequacy in which we are all born is called Grace. Grace is the gift of God’s love that fills the difference between our ability and God’s will for us in this life and the next.
I have never seen anyone who has learned about life without making mistakes. When we see the difference in the options we have in living our lives today, we begin to note wisdom and folly of the world. We have all done things that were foolish.
The measure of wisdom in our lives is what we learn to do with the things that we have done wrong. If we repeat them, we are not very wise in our actions. If we refuse to repeat them, we grow in wisdom.
FEAR AND THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS
The seven deadly sins all find their roots in fear. Pride is the fear that we are not as good as we ought to be, and we do everything in our power to justify ourselves in all that we do. We compete by trying to place ourselves above our competition. We seek to prove our excellence.
Envy is the fear that someone else has more than we have, or something that we really want to make our lives full as others seem to be.
Anger is the fear that others are not meeting our expectations of them, and we will be out of control.
Sloth is the fear that we cannot do something well enough, and so we put off starting it.
Greed or Avarice is the fear that we will not have enough and we want to get more, and more, and more.
Gluttony is the fear that we will not have enough food, and so we eat all we can get to make sure that we will not starve.
Lust is the fear that we will not be able to control the world in which we live, so we want to seize control now, whether it be possession of a person or grasping some sort of power.
Two great sins that are deadly, but not counted in the seven are Unforgiveness and Resentment. They seem to be the fear that something is not fair, and if we forgive we will only be hurt again by the one we need to forgive. As a result we continue to bear the burden of the other persons without being able to put them down and walk away. Forgiveness does not mean excuse and forget. It means to accept people as they are instead of as we think they ought to be.
LOVE IS THE ANSWER
If perfect love casts out fear, then the Fruit of Holy Spirit of which Paul writes in Galatians 5:22, fills the gaps that the fear leaves when it departs. Each of the fruit of Holy Spirit is some variety of love.
Love is the overall quality of God’s relating to us as we are in this moment. When I know that I am loved, I need no other assurance that I am worth something. I need not be afraid. I am fulfilled.
Joy is love toward the pain of the world. Joy is not the same as happiness. Happiness depends on doing the right thing with the right people in the right place at the right time. When you change any one of those, happiness is gone. Joy is the realization that God is with us in the midst of pleasure or pain. It is love’s answer to any depression and lack of hope.
Peace is love toward the conflict in the world. It is more than getting along. It is being at peace within our hearts even when the world around us is not getting along.
Patience is love toward the inept of the world. It is the love that accepts each person with their limitations that so irritate us. It is being able to accept people even when they are “old enough to know better.”
Gentleness is love toward the weak. It does not stem from weakness. It draws strength from the greatest power in the universe, God’s love. It is so strong that it is free to accept another without having to shape them up by our own effort. We can rather support them in the
love God gives through us.
Faithfulness is love toward God.
Humility is love toward myself. It means that I see myself and know myself and love myself as God sees me and knows me and loves me. It means that I know that I can do nothing good in my own strength; but there is nothing God cannot do through me when I say, “Yes.”
Self Control does not mean that my ego is at the helm. It means that my ego is under the control of Holy Spirit. I am no longer the ambitious human seeking to build a kingdom of self in the world. I become a child of God seeking the Kingdom that He has prepared for me.
Since I am loved, I no longer need to prove that I am of value. I can give up my pride. Since I am loved and my Father provides my needs, I can give up envy. Since I am loved I can give up my anger toward anyone who is not what I expect them to be. I am not even what I expect me to be.
Since I am loved I can give up the sloth that keeps me from reaching out. When I am working with God and not for God, I have no fear of how things are going to turn out. I can fearlessly make the attempt.
Since I am loved I can give up the greed and learn to share with those others whom God has given me to love as the fulfillment of my life. I can turn my thoughts to how I am to use what He has given me and enjoy the things He has shared with me by sharing with others.
Since I am loved I do not need to eat everything in sight because I know I can trust God to provide what I am going to need. Since I am loved, I need not lust for power as I once did because I will to see all power in His hand as I learn to walk in His Kingdom. Since I am loved, I forgive others so that I might be free to receive His forgiveness of me. Forgiveness is the elasticity of God’s love and mine.