The president of BYU traditionally speaks at the first weekly devotional each fall semester as a kick-off for the year and a motivator for the students. I recently read again one of these talks by President Kevin J. Worthen and thought it may be even more applicable today than when he gave it in September of 2017. He asked the students, “what is the most often-repeated but most often-overlooked commandment?” He said it appears 78 times in the scriptures. He noted it was the first thing spoken by the angels who announced Christ’s birth to the shepherds and the first thing spoken by the angels who announced Christ’s Resurrection to the women at the empty tomb. It is a simple two-word commandment— “fear not.”
My reaction was, “Is that really a commandment?” So, I turned to that most-trusted of all sources—Google—and I typed in, “what is the most repeated command in the Bible?” The answer was “do not fear,” which its sources claim appears over 200 times. I didn’t pursue this any further, but I would guess this includes such references as “be not afraid,” and “let not your heart be troubled.” At any rate, I think this commandment (or suggestion, or good piece of advice) is of particular relevance as we find ourselves in this year with all of its challenges and in a world that seems increasingly full of fears.
There are many real fears we may have today such as pestilence, fires, storms, earthquakes and other destruction. Physical preparation of emergency supplies is important, as is our spiritual preparation. To quote Brother Worthen, “When any challenges cause you to lose hope in the future, and maybe even in the present, please remember that God has repeatedly commanded us to “fear not.” But the fact that this commandment is short and to the point does NOT mean that it is an easy thing to do.
What realistic things can we do to try to comply with the commandment to fear not? Maybe some simple reminders will help. First, recognize that fear is the exact opposite of faith. The feelings of despair and hopelessness that characterize irrational fear are some of the adversary’s primary tools. President Russell M. Nelson has reminded us that “Faith is the antidote for fear.” So, if we want to decrease fear, we need to increase our faith.
We can serve others more. The Lectures on Faith indicate that faith is a principle of action. When we are proactive in trying to strengthen our testimony and faith, we become less fearful as we focus on others and less on ourselves. A Scout helps other people at all times. In Moroni 8:16 we learn that “perfect love casteth out all fear.” If we can focus more on what others need and what we can do for them, our own fears will decrease.
I would call this last suggestion something to the effect of “Don’t Worry—Be Happy!” A Scout is Cheerful. There were several great references to this in the October 2020 general conference. President Oaks told the sisters, “Be of Good Cheer!” Elder Yaggi expressed this same sentiment as, “Be of good cheer; not of good fear.” In Doctrine and Covenants 38:30 we read, “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.” For Scouters, that scripture may remind us of the Scout Motto “Be Prepared.” Both are sound advice when trying to keep the commandment to fear not.