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Thoughts from Milly Jones

Dear Friends,

Today’s post has to do with the pursuit of what is true. Not merely accepting what sounds good to me, or what fits with the personal narrative I’ve chosen to hold in life, or what I want to be true. It has to do with seeking what is really true – because truth does matter. For instance, how many have heard the commonly accepted statement that the phrase “do not fear” or “do not be afraid” occurs 365 times in the Bible, “once for every day in the year.”

In regard to that statement one person wrote: “This sounded very encouraging. Having done some Bible searching in the past I was doubtful the actual phrase ‘do not fear’ would be found written in exactly that format 365 times but thought maybe verses which communicated that sentiment in various forms – such as fear not, don’t be afraid, etc. – would make up this excellent number.”

I want to share the rest of this person’s story below, because they did go on (as we should) to do the research to see if it was true or not. And with good reason. Our credibility as witnesses for Jesus, and the truths of the Bible, does diminish when we say things, or pass along things on social media, that someone discovers simply are not true. Such things can cause people to call into question other things we say that are indeed true!

So, yes, I did look in my concordance, and did a word search, and could not come up with anything even close to 365. Yet, rather than write an exhaustive list, I will offer you the January 17, 2013 blog post of a lady named Milly Jones’ who did take the time to look, did do the research, and checked into this popular idea now accepted by many as a fact – because whether it is true or not does matter. Her blog entry is entitled: “365 ‘Do Not Be Afraid’ Verses?” (link below). I pick up with the rest of her blog post starting where I left off above. Enjoy.

“… So, I re-posted this ‘fact’ on Facebook, so that others could also be encouraged. Then, a few days later, I wanted to see if I could find a list of these amazing 365 verses, so that I could be encouraged by the Bible’s exhortation not to be afraid. So, I started researching. And sadly, what I found is that this wonderful number of 365 seems to be a myth. At least, if some person somewhere once counted a number of verses which gave the message ‘do not fear’ in different formats, they don’t seem to have published that list of verses. And everyone who has since tried to search the Bible has failed to find as many as 365…

There are two things to point out here: 1st) The Bible does tell us – lots of times – not be afraid. This message is not in doubt. God tells us to fear nothing and no one except for him. We are not to live in fear. 2nd) Is it important how many times? No – it is not important to salvation. God has not declared that he said it X amount of times, so therefore we are not finding an inaccuracy in the Bible.

However – as Christians we are exhorted to ‘test everything.’ What good is it for me to blithely advertise facts about the Bible which are, when simply tested, not true? We should not simply accept as fact every nice thing we are told about the Bible because it sounds good – but should verify the accuracy before we pass on information.

So, embarrassed that I had continued to perpetuate the myth of the 365 ‘fear not’ verses, I decided to do a little Bible study myself. I have searched the Bible using an online tool for verses that tell us not to fear, not to be afraid, etc. I have added in verses that encourage us to have peace in God, not to worry, and not to be anxious (both general types of fear). And I have come up with a list of 145 verses! A pretty impressive number all the same.

I am not claiming this an exhaustive list of fear not/be at peace verses (I was pretty picky on the peace verses, some might add quite a few more in); I have after all only spent one afternoon looking into this – I am sure there are Bible scholars out there who might be able to add further verses to the list. Anyway, I thought I would publish the list here, so you can see for yourself. And if anyone knows the origin of the 365 verses, and even better has a list of what they are – please do let me know."

If you are interested in seeing her very helpful and comprehensive list of all those 145 verses, you can click of this link:

I am one who, like the author above, believes that we should not simply adopt something as “true” because it sounds good to us, or because it can be helpful, or fits with what we’d like to believe, or with our particular preferences, or our philosophical slant on things. To use the common postmodern term, we should not accept it simply because, “it fits with our own personal narrative.”

Even in regard to things of the faith, the apostle Paul says of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead that if it did not happen, “our preaching is useless and so is your faith,” and, “our faith is futile, and you are still in your sins,” and again, “we are to be pitied more than all men” (I Cor. 15:14, 17, 19). Some would say that the idea that Jesus rose from the dead can be encouraging and give hope to suffering people even if it’s not true. Yet that’s not Paul’s opinion! He assures us that if we tell people he rose, but it didn’t actually happen, it’s just deception, and makes us to be “pitied more than all men,” and adds that our words and faith are “useless,” and “futile,” and make our lives worthy to be “pitied.”

Years ago, I copied down the response of a lady who shared an inspiring story, assuring her readers that it was true. Someone researched and discovered otherwise. Here’s her response when he challenged her about it not being true: “True or not, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you believe it could really happen that way.” Well, for one Paul would disagree! We should too. Can stories help people? Who could disagree? Can even fantasy stories help people? Without a doubt! But does it matter if we say something is true when it’s not? I believe so.

Can we be mistaken about something we thought was true, and in innocence passed along, only to correct ourselves later? Yes. I believe I may even have shared the ‘fact’ about the 365 “Do Not Be Afraid” Verses in the Bible with someone when I first heard it thinking, “Wow, that’s encouraging.” But should I do so now that I know it’s not true? Should I say to myself, “True or not, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that someone could get comfort from it”? Should I share it now even though I now know (from my own investigation and hers) that the number is half of that at best? I don’t think so. And you?

In the Name of Him who was Full of Grace and Truth, Pastor Jeff


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