Libby and I are very alike in a lot of ways, but in some we are totally different. Spreading butter is one of the things in which we are different. Libby spreads very carefully and makes sure that she covers every bit of the bread, right up to the edges. She perhaps has this feeling that if she misses a bit then it won’t taste the same. Not me – I go for speed. Get as much on, over as large an area as you can, then take a huge bite, on the assumption that there will be the right amount of butter and bread in the gob, and just mix it all up as you chew. Fast food.
Spreading isn’t just about food though. We can spread a lot of things.
Rumours – that’s a good one. Did you hear about…. And it seems that the more a rumour spreads, the bigger it gets, the more contorted. It’s even better in these days of the internet where rumours can go viral.
Talking of viral, viruses can be spread too. Have a sneeze, don’t be selfish. It’s coming up to that time of year – colds, flu, spots and aches. Spread it about, see how it breaks.
Fear is very spreadable. Look at the stock market these days: it runs on fear. People try to justify the ups and downs by quoting economic woes and glows, but it’s all fear – fear of losing, fear of not winning, fear of having shares which are going down. Sell high, buy cheap. If they’re not cheap, spread a rumour (see above), watch them fall, buy them, spread a rumour, watch them rise. He’s afraid, maybe I should be too. Should I sell, shall I buy?
In fact, fear is more than spreadable, it’s contagious, and God knows it. In Deuteronomy 20, Moses tells the people the regulations for going to war. Any man who has just built a new house, or planted a new vineyard, or just got engaged is to be sent home before the army engages the enemy. Then he instructs them,
Then the officers will also say, ‘Is anyone here afraid or worried? If you are, you may go home before you frighten anyone else.’ (Deut 20:8, NLT)
Being frightened can frighten others. That’s scary, isn’t it? Fear spreads fear.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. (Isa 41:10, NLT)
In fact, if you look in the Bible you will find the phrases “do not be afraid” or “don’t be afraid” over 100 times. That makes me think that God doesn’t want me to be fearful. If I have no fear, then I cannot spread it, eh?
But what can I spread?
How about love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? (Gal 5:22-23) Yes, I can spread them. I can spread a bit of good news, because I have a lot of good news, and it isn’t a rumour – it’s the truth. And I am perfectly loved, so I can spread perfect love.
And perfect love drives out ALL fear.