How to know the difference between Fear and Wisdom

It seems like the whole world is in a complete panic over our newest friend, the Coronavirus. I just found out that March Madness is going to be a little less “mad” this year, with no fans. And the NBA is suspended. Bummer for basketball junkies like me.

Nevertheless, it’s difficult to see past the urgency of the moment, and I will try to avoid criticism of the response. However, the entire ordeal raises a significant question: Are these precautions really about wisdom, or simply fear?

Depending on who you trust, the current response to the threat can be seen as a necessary step or an over-exaggeration. No one wants to increase exposure, but is it worth the growing disruption that we see happening across various industries? Is there a real risk to consider, or are we overreacting? More importantly, how do we discern the difference between responses that are rooted in wisdom and those that are governed by fear?

Scripture offers help in determining the difference:

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
– James 3:17-18 (ESV

It seems that wise decisions must qualify as much more than just clever ideas. They also must not fall into the category of knee-jerk reactions. James argues a particular tone of the decision itself, as well as an implied beneficiary. It’s amazing how similar this description of wisdom is to the characterization of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4. In essence, wisdom from above always executes love in the lives of others. In order to make a wise decision, someone else must experience it, ultimately, as a blessing.  Of course, if one is to experience blessing, then it requires another to offer sacrifice. Our choices become fear-based whenever we try to secure that blessing without the corresponding sacrifice.

As we navigate the safety concerns during this time, I pray that we would have the courage to choose wisely, and be a blessing to the people we are called to serve.

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