The Fear of Man.
“The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.” – Proverbs 29:25 NASB
Virtually all of the Proverbs are relationship-based. They have to do with how we interact with others. And much of the negative behavior portrayed in these wise sayings is driven by the fear of man. To fear man is to be consumed about what another individual thinks about me, which can lead to flattery, pretense and show, as well as jealousy. Fear of man is an inordinate concern for acceptance. It is an unhealthy obsession with status and achievement. Fear of man is behind our need to impress and improve. Even those who the Bible describes as wicked are motivated by the fear of man. The oppress and mistreat others, fearing that if they don’t they will somehow lose power and control. The manipulate and take advantage of others in order to prevent the same thing from happening to them. Fear of man is a powerful force in our lives. It can cause us to do things we wouldn’t normally do. When we fear man we cease to fear God. In fact, we put man in the place of God, fearing more what man might do to us or think about us, than God Himself.
Fear of man is a lack of trust in God. We lie because we are trying to protect ourselves, somehow doubting that God can watch over us if we just tell the truth. Abraham did this on a number of occasions, telling lies that were motivated by the fear of man. His fear of man was greater than his trust in God. We flatter others, telling them how great they are, even when we don’t really mean it – all because we think it might get us what we want or what we think we need. Again, when we do this we are expressing to God our doubt that He can or will meet our needs. We sometimes do unethical or questionable things in order to accomplish a certain goal. We bend the rules and fudge the facts, justifying our actions as necessary and acceptable. But when we do these things, we are not only showing God we don’t trust Him to provide, we don’t fear Him. He must not be serious about our holiness and obedience. He won’t do anything. We fear man more than God.
The fear of man is powerful and ultimately destructive. Especially to those who call themselves followers of Christ. Over in the book of John we are told about some of the religious leaders who had become convinced that Jesus really was who He said He was. They began to believe in Him as the Messiah of Israel. But sadly, we are told, “…many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God” (John 12:42-43 NASB). They loved the approval of men more than the approval of God. Have you ever refused to pray over your meal in public for fear of what others might think of you? Have you ever decided not to share your faith with a co-worker out of fear of what they might say about you? Have you ever struggled with obeying what God has told you to do because you have feared that it might diminish your reputation in the eyes of others? That is the fear of man. And it is alive and well in our lives today. The alternative is to trust God and seek His approval. Men are fickle. God is not. Men can never be pleased. God doesn’t have to be. Men will never love us as much as we would like. God loves us unconditionally and completely. Trust Him.
Father, the fear of man is a powerful force in my life. It makes me do things I don’t want to do and it tempts me to doubt and disobey You. Help me to see that there is no need to fear man. You are on my side. You love me and care for me. You have my best in store. I can trust You. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men