Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
Risk aversion is the term most frequently associated with finances and investing. According to the website Investopedia, “The term risk-averse describes the investor who chooses the preservation of capital over the potential for a higher-than-average return… Low-risk means stability.”
People with high-risk aversion prefer safety above profit. The expression “nothing ventured, nothing gained” seems reckless to them. Increasingly, we seem to be living in a culture that prefers not losing over winning. Many in the Christian community concur. They reject the counsel of Benjamin Franklin: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
Increasing numbers of people are willing to embrace fundamentally flawed political and economic systems that have never succeeded, hoping that they will bring security and safety this time. They will tell you that there has not been success to this point for communism or socialism because the right people have not implemented them.
There are some whose motives are noble, but they are in denial concerning fundamental human nature. Fallen humanity cannot sustain the idealism required to support communities or nations organized on principles that do not reward individual effort. It is suitable to provide for those who cannot provide for themselves, but to promise to provide for those who are unwilling to contribute is untenable.
If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it. Luke 17:33 (NLT)
Looking at what constitutes risk in the kingdom of God is a real eye-opener. “Playing it safe” is more dangerous than “letting it all go” for Jesus. For those who are risk-averse, this thought is very disruptive. It sometimes appears that some Christ-followers would prefer to live their lives off the radar. The last line of an Irish toast sums up this attitude: “And may you be in heaven half-an-hour before the devil knows you’re dead.”
If we accept the premise that for the child of God, absolute safety and security are not found by trying to save our lives, but rather by surrendering them to the will of God, what will that look like as we live out our lives?
Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 (NIV). The thief’s purpose is to instill fear. That is, to rob us of the full and rich life that God intends for us. The command to Joshua was “be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Why? Because “the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Yes, there will be challenges, battles, and obstacles, but “So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose?” Romans 8:31 (The Message). We know that some people are more naturally averse to risk than others, but can’t we see, and believe, that real freedom is obtained by letting go of our lives? God is faithful!
It Will Be Worth It All
For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. Philippians 1:20 (NLT)
Fear is a tool of the devil. The expression “paralyzed by fear” aptly describes its intended purpose. King David told a time in his life: My enemy has chased me. He has knocked me to the ground and forces me to live in darkness like those in the grave. I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear. Psalm 143:3–4 (NLT)
After reaching this point of desperation, David begins to turn his attention toward God. He begins by remembering what God has done for him in the past. In a building crescendo, the Psalm climaxes with a declaration of hope: For the glory of your name, O Lord, preserve my life. Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress. In your unfailing love, silence all my enemies and destroy all my foes, for I am your servant. Psalm 143:11–12 (NLT)
Remember, the real place of risk is when we try and run from the battle. The early church (Acts 4) did not pray that those who opposed them be removed or destroyed; they simply prayed: And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Acts 4:29 (NLT)
Like good soldiers, they were ready to report for duty.
Living in Freedom and Power
By embracing death Jesus sets free those who live their entire lives in bondage to the tormenting dread of death. Hebrews 2:15 (TPT)
We do not have to subscribe to conspiracy theories to understand that there are forces preying upon the fears people have regarding death. Jesus came to give us life and deliver us from death. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 (NIV)
It is probably safe to say that most people have an aversion to risk; that is, they live their life with a degree of caution. What we must understand, though, is that true freedom, liberty, and power are ours when we surrender our lives to the one who embraced death so that we might live!