There was once a stingy young man so consumed with the fear of going hungry, that he put away some money each month in a future food fund. Decades later, the man retired, and his regular income was no more. So intent on having enough money to buy food at any given moment, the man eventually died of hunger because he couldn’t bring himself to spend his savings on food.
It might be a little fictional fable, but the principle is as accurate as the Bible itself.
What the wicked dreads will come upon him,Proverbs 10:24
but the desire of the righteous will be granted.
There are many things in this life that cause us to fear. We might fear dying some specific kind of death like the man in the fable; we might be fearful of heights; we might fear the things we cannot control; we might fear failure, spiders, crime, or public speaking; we might fear losing a loved one or unintentionally breaking a good relationship. There are a host of things in life that cause us to fear.
Even if you are not the proverbial “wicked” man, the question Proverbs 10:24 makes us ponder, is “Do your fears drive your life, or do righteous desires drive your life?” For example, when you drive to work, do you do so because you fear unemployment or perhaps your boss, or do you drive to work because you desire to be a diligent worker? Do you speak to your friend because you fear losing the relationship, or do you speak to your friend because of a righteous desire to demonstrate love and build him/her up?
This proverb is not some superstitious threat that if you fear something, then that is what will befall you one day. It is also not a mystical guarantee of having your desires fulfilled if you do good today. Instead it is a testimony from God that the consequences of wickedness will surely come upon the wicked. Likewise, when a man desires good, and pursues it in righteousness, God will reward him accordingly.
A fear-driven life will result in you being the very fulfilment of your fears. It is those with a paranoia of drowning who end up rocking the boat most. It is those who enter a conversation with a fear of breaking the relationship who end up saying the wrong thing. By contrast, it is those who seek the enjoyment of the others on the boat, who end up being a pleasure to be with on a boat in spite of a healthy fear of drowning. It is those who seek the good of another who end up with the best friendships in spite of a fear of losing the relationship.
This proverb for daily living is ultimately also true of our eternal hope. Sinners who are in dread of judgment will indeed be judged, but those with a perfected love of God do not fear judgment. Love casts out fear (1 Jo 4:17-18). Let love—a desire for the good of another—drive your life instead of fear.