Reviewed by Paul Tautges
The father and son team of Wayne and Joshua Mack have become known for their thorough approach to applying the Scriptures to the everyday struggles that believers face. Courage: Fighting Fear with Fear follows this pattern. As a result, they provide faithful counsel to all of us as we battle the universal struggles of anxiety, fear, and panic.
Key Biblical Concepts
The Macks do a very good job of diagnosing the heart issues that feed our sinful fears. As a result of their biblical diagnosis of our hearts, they are then able to present godly solutions. These can be summarized by the following key concepts, which are developed in the first three chapters:
- The Holy Spirit and His fruit of love combat fear in the believer: The indwelling spirit empowers believers to fight fear, especially as we learn to love those whom we fear.
- Faith is the ultimate solution to fighting against our fears. “If you want to stand strong, to stop being so anxious, to be courageous, you have got to exercise faith. You’ve got to go back to the Scriptures, learn what is true about God, and apply it to your situation.”
- Fearing God more than man is a key to fighting sinful fear. The book’s contrast of human fear and holy fear is very helpful as they divide our fears into three categories: natural fear, sinful fear, and holy fear.
Chapters 4 to 6 thoroughly contrast sinful fear and godly fear, fear of man and fear of God. King Saul’s life is used to illustrate the characteristics and tragic results of living under the control of sinful fear, which is defined as idolatry. “When you fear other people, you are acting as if God alone is not capable of making you happy and keeping you secure. In reality, you are making other human beings your idol. You have set your heart on their approval. You are motivated by what they think of you. Their opinions and their desires master and rule you. You serve them, not God. And that’s idolatry.” Honestly facing our fears, and learning to trust God to act consistently with His character are part of what it means to walk by faith.
Humility and Repentance
Chapter 7, “The Way Up Is Down,” is a great chapter. It begins with a description of the fear that gripped David when he remained an unrepentant adulterer and murderer. This chapter explains the connection of fear to unconfessed sin, and walks the reader through the process of biblical repentance.
The balance of the book concentrates on the fear of God by defining it, and teaching why the fear of God is good for us and is absolutely essential to fighting all other fears. Developing and sustaining a healthy fear of God depends upon several factors: change of heart, prayer, devotion to the Word, and the habit of meditating on truth in order to fight off the lies we often believe.
Discussion questions at the end of each chapter make Courage a useful tool for personal study, one-to-one discipleship, and small group discussion. I could imagine a small group of believers who battle anxiety would find immense help working through this book together. I am pleased to recommend it.
Paul Tautges is Senior Pastor at Cornerstone Community Church of Mayfield Heights, OH, and Review Editor for Counseling here at Books At a Glance.