So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. (Acts 9:31 ESV)
Saul (later named Paul) was a frightening man for Christians. He was there at Stephen’s stoning giving approval. As this new persecution arose and scattered them, Saul pursued them with the authority of the high priest. But on his way to round them up he is confronted by Jesus in a blinding light and dramatically converted to a follower of Jesus. Ananias, the Christian whom God sent to heal Saul of his blindness, is frightened initially because of Saul’s mission. But God reassures Ananias by explaining, “I will show him how much he must suffer for my sake.” So, what is it that enabled Ananias to get over his fear of Saul that he might minister to him? It was these two things that Luke outlines in the verse above: the fear of God and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. While Ananias feared Saul initially, his fear of God was greater. As much of a threat Saul was with the power he had been granted to imprison Christians, God’s power is limitless and thus much more greatly to be feared. And at the same time, it is not a paralyzing nor frightening fear, as was the fear of Saul. Instead, it was a fear accompanied by the comfort of the Holy Spirit. As much as Ananias was deserving of God’s wrath as a sinner before a Holy God, he had no fear of punishment because of the comforting work of the Holy Spirit that convinced him of his new status, righteous, before God.
This fear of God propelled disciples to go and tell of Jesus and this comfort of the Holy Spirit compelled them to do so in love of God. These are the two things we too must cling to as disciples eager to see God’s church multiply.
Lord, would you give us a fear of you that will not let us rest idly as your people, and a comfort that gives us strength and passion to go and make disciples. Raise us up as workers to bring in your harvest, as fishers of men casting the net of the gospel every place your direct us.