The Opposite of Faith


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Then the officers shall add, “Is anyone afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his fellow soldiers will not become disheartened too.” — Deuteronomy 20:8

In Judaism, faith is more a verb; it is something that we do, rather than something we have. These devotions explore the idea of faith as living out our lives in a way that reflects our belief and trust in God. Enjoy!

Have you ever noticed that watching the news never makes you feel better about the world? Whether it’s war, the pandemic, or this or that problem in society, optimism is not on the menu. Unfortunately, fear sells.

But here’s the thing about fear—it’s the opposite of faith. In the well-known passage in Ecclesiastes chapter 3, which begins, “There is a time for everything,” the list that follows is 28 items long, beginning with “a time to be born and a time to die,” and ending with “a time for war and a time for peace.” But do you know what isn’t on the list? There is no “time to fear.”

In fact, the only fear that’s acceptable in the Bible is fear of God. Because when we fear God, we don’t fear anything else.

The Opposite of Faith

In Deuteronomy we read the procedures for going to war. Among the procedures is a speech to be delivered to the troops. In these words we read: “Then the officers shall add, ‘Is anyone afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his fellow soldiers will not become disheartened too.’”

Anyone who was afraid that he might be killed in war was ordered to return home. Notice the reason. It wasn’t because the fearful solider wouldn’t fight well, but “so that his fellow soldiers will not become disheartened too.’” If one soldier is afraid, he stands to discourage all the other troops.

The good news is that what is true of fear is also true of faith. When we show that we are not afraid and have faith in God, it makes it easier for others around us to have faith, too.

Faith is the opposite of fear. Think about it. Both faith and fear require us to believe in something for which we have no proof. Fear paralyzes us and makes us believe that the situation is hopeless. Faith emboldens us and gives us the confidence to move forward. And when we do, others have faith and join us.

Your turn: Remember that your faith or fear will spread to those around you. And if you are stricken with fear, find a faithful friend to talk to and let their faith defeat your fear.

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