Prudence and Paranoia

As we continue to look at faith over fear, our verse today at first glance doesn’t seem to really fit into our subject matter, but as we take a closer look, we can see how it can be applied. Proverbs 13:16 says, “Every sensible person acts knowledgeably, but a fool displays his stupidity.” (CSB) The World English Bible (WEB) says, “Every prudent man acts from knowledge, but a fool exposes folly.”  The King James Version says, “Every prudent man dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open his folly.” 

When we look at the subject of faith being greater than fear, we can say that faith is synonymous with prudence and paranoia is based on fear.  I looked up the definitions of prudence and paranoia and here is what I found.  Prudence is cautiousness or being wise in dealing with practical matters. Paranoia is irrational (foolish) or extreme distrust of people or situations.  There is a huge difference between being cautious and having an extreme distrust or fear.  Paranoia is irrational fear, nothing about it makes any sense.  Prudence, on the other hand, is carefully thought out, logical courses of action, or decisions. 

We are living in a time where fear seems to be rampant in our world.  We are bombarded with news reports of how many have tested positive for Covid-19, how many have been hospitalized, how many have died, and hardly do we ever see how many have survived.  People sit at home watching the news wrapped in fear of a virus and Satan is having a Hey-Day!  He is taking this situation and running with it.  He feeds us all the bad news, telling us God can’t possibly get us out of this.  Well, folks, I’m here to tell you Satan is a liar!

Does that mean we disregard all the recommendations that the experts are telling us?  No, masks are good, social distancing is good, even helpful.  However, we don’t need to walk in fear that every person we encounter is going to give us the disease.  Prudence means being responsible and wearing a mask when needed, paranoia says, sequester yourself away from everyone forever, and be afraid!  When we have faith that God can deliver us from this pandemic, we don’t need to live in fear that we will get it.  Maybe we will contract the disease, but we can be responsible and learn everything there is to learn, using knowledge about how to combat it, and we can remember that God’s Word tells us that God is our healer.  “For I am the Lord who heals you.” (Exodus 15:26 NIV)  When we take God’s Word to heart, fear has no room to reside in us. 

There are other instances where fear can paralyze us.  I am terrified of roller coasters. My husband loves them! I went on one once with the youth group of my church when I was a teen because they goaded me into riding one, and I will never ride one again!  I didn’t want to be teased about being a scaredy-cat and so I was fearful of what they would think of me.  My husband says when you ride a roller coaster you experience “controlled fear.”  Let me tell you, there was nothing controlled about the fear I had that day.  I nearly passed out when I got off that thing. I’m sure the enemy was laughing hysterically at my panic.  That day, there was no thought of, “God will protect me”.  (Isaiah 41:10, Psalm 46:1)) Once I was on the ride, all I could do was suffer through the awful feeling of going straight down at a high rate of speed and whiplashing up to the top again.  Not one Scripture verse came to mind to alleviate my fear.  I knew them, but I allowed the fear to take over and I foolishly went on a ride I knew would scare me to death.  I didn’t use prudence (caution), instead, I caved in to the fear of what my friends would think of me.  I didn’t use good judgment.  It is a lesson I have since learned.  Use good judgment (knowledge) and don’t allow fear to dictate my actions.

In any situation, we can anchor ourselves in God’s Word, combating fear by using the knowledge of what God says against what the Devil is telling us, and exhibiting wisdom in our decisions.  Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  When we fear God (reverence Him), we are using knowledge, wisdom, and teaching from His Word to help us make prudent decisions.  We are allowing faith in Him and His Word to conquer any fear or dread we may experience.  So, take God’s Word to heart and use it as a defense against the fear that would cause one to make foolish decisions and live life being terrified.

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