Fear of Man.
“Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety.” – Proverbs 29:25 NLT
Most of us don’t want to admit it and the rest of us probably just don’t recognize it, but we all suffer from an inordinate fear of man – and it takes all kinds of forms. Sometimes we simply worry about what others will think about us. We get dressed in the morning selecting our wardrobe based on the various reactions we hope to get from those we work with. Some of us are petrified to speak in front of others, breaking out in a cold sweat at the very thought of it. Many of us fear rejection or getting hurt, so we refuse to let anyone get close to us. Others of us fear being made fun of or laughed at by others. Then there are those who fear being found out, of getting exposed and watching as others discover some hidden truth about us that we have covered up for years.
The fear of man is alive and well. And this simple proverb tells us that it is a dangerous trap. The truth is, any time we fear what people might do or think, we are allowing them to control our lives. Changing clothes three times in the morning out of some sense of insecurity and need to impress others is fear-based and debilitating. It robs us of joy. It traps us in a relentless pursuit of acceptance, never knowing if we are going to please those around us with our choices and whether or not we can influence others to like us, or just simply notice us. Refusing to pursue relationships out of a fear of being rejected leaves us isolated and missing out on the vital aspect of community we were meant to have as human beings. The fear of rejection causes us to turn inward, diminishing our capacity to give ourselves away to others and robbing us of joy in the process.
Every day we wrestle with the fear of man. But as believers, we are reminded that it is trust in God that should drive our actions and attitudes. Allowing ourselves to be driven by the fear of man shows that we do not really believe that God is sovereign and capable of taking care of us. We try to impress others in order to receive some kind of affirmation and acceptance in return. Yet, we are loved and accepted by God, JUST THE WAY WE ARE. We allow ourselves to become incapacitated by our fear of others, yet we worship an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God who has promised to protect us and provide for us. It is easy to fear men because they are all around us and easy to see. It is harder to trust God because He is literally out of sight, which tends to render Him out of mind. But we must constantly remind ourselves of His presence and rest in His promise that He will never leave us of forsake us. The writer of Hebrews reminds us, “So we can say with confidence, ‘The LORD is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?'” (Hebrews 13:6 NLT). He was simply reiterating an Old Testament thought penned by King David himself, “The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” (Psalm 118:6 NLT). The fear of man is a trap. But when we learn to trust in God, we find ourselves in a place of safety. We are free to be who He intended us to be. We learn that our worth is based on what He thinks about us, not others. We don’t have to fear what others think about us or might do to us, because God is on our side. He loves us and thinks the world of us. In fact, He loves us so much that He sent His own Son to die for us. He is not impressed with or swayed by our clothes, cars, and winning personalities. He will never harm us, ridicule us, or do anything to belittle us. He will never reject us, even though He knows everything about us. So why would we fear what others think? Don’t fall into that trap. Instead, trust in God.
Father, it’s so easy to fear man. But I want to trust You more and more. Keep opening my eyes to the reality of just how prevalent the fear of man is in my life and then help me to replace it with trust in You. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men