THE MOST POPULAR commandment
By Lance Shumake
Commandments are popular in the Bible. There are a lot of dos and don’ts throughout Scripture, or thou shalt and thou shalt not for those who prefer to read like royalty.
As we consider Scripture’s commandments, it’s important to let the following truth guide us. We don’t obey God in order to earn His love, His favor, or our salvation. Instead, the Bible teaches we obey God in response to His love for us. We follow Jesus because He loved and rescued us.
So which commandment of all the commandments is the most popular? Perhaps it’s one of the Top Ten? Given to Moses after God delivered all His people, they are designed to teach us how to honor God and how to treat others. God wrote them in stone and gave them to Moses, and they’ve proven to be pretty popular.
Another good choice is the “Greatest Commandment.” There were so many laws (God-given and man-made) by the time Jesus showed up, people were overwhelmed and confused. They wanted to know what the greatest commandment was, so they asked Jesus. His answer, as you would expect, was perfect. Love God and love others. Putting it that way surely made that popular.
As great as those commandments are, they aren’t the most popular. It is not one of the Top Ten. It isn’t the commandment to make disciples, give to the needy, or to not boil a baby goat in its mother’s milk (yep, that’s really in there).
The most popular commandment – meaning the commandment most often found in the Bible is this — don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid.
God knew we would struggle with fear. He knew we would experience fear of angels, spiders, enemies, heights, public speaking, dying, and the dark.
What fear is trying to entrap you right now? Fear of sickness? Fear of the future? Fear of conflict? Fear of change? Fear Of Missing Out?
In a world full of fear, God says don’t be afraid. Don’t let fear control you. Don’t let fear keep you from doing what is best, what is right, what is necessary, what is essential, and what is commanded.
I know. Easier said than done, right? Fear is a real problem, and it doesn’t let go of us without a fight. So, how can we embrace the most popular commandment? Let me offer two thoughts.
First, we need to remember that God is with us. In one of the most famous passages related to this, God challenges Joshua to not be afraid. He commands him to be strong and courageous. And he does so based on one simple truth – He will be with Joshua.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” –Joshua 1:9 (ESV)
God always goes with us. He doesn’t call us to follow and obey on our own. He will be with you. Always. He is with you right now in the middle of whatever is causing you to fear. He will never leave you. Ever.
Second, we need to remember that God is for us. The gospel makes this ultra-clear. If God was willing to give us His only Son to die on a cross in our place, then we know He is truly for us. We can trust Him.
In Romans 8, Paul asks the question, “If God is for us, then who can be against us?”
The answer is no one. Not successfully. Anything that happens to us is in His control. In fact, He promises to work all things for good in the end. We have nothing to fear.
This is such good news for all of us. Fear doesn’t have to control us.
Are you ready? Let’s go! Start that conversation with a lost friend. Invite someone to church. Tell someone you are sorry. Confess that sin. Ask someone for help. Sign up to serve. Engage your church. Send that text. Make that phone call. Love your enemies.
God is with us, and God is for us. Don’t be afraid.
Preach this truth to yourself today and every day. Then follow Jesus. Without fear.
Lance Shumake serves as the President and Founder of iGo Global, a student missions organization based in Texas. He also is a pastor at Crosspoint Community Church in Rockwall, Texas.