Proverbs 29:25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.
This thought is expressed many times in the Bible and it’s certainly true, even though it runs counter to what most people practice a large part of the time. There is a difference between fearing man and caring what they think. We are created as social beings, and we are supposed to care for and about one another. However, there is a big difference between not wanting to cause needless offense and really being afraid of what someone will think, say, or do. The Bible tells us to fear God, not man! That’s why Peter could be so bold before the Sanhedrin, where he proclaimed, “We must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 5:29) This verse tells us that fearing people gets us tangled in snares. When you think about it, that’s a pretty good description. When we’re afraid of a person, or people, that tends to color everything we do, and we wind up doing things we don’t want to do, failing to do things we need to do, and generally getting all tangled up. The way out of that sort of mess is to trust God. People can be pretty scary at times, but they are no match for God! Trusting God involves several things. First of all, we’ve got to believe that He’s big enough, strong enough, to handle whatever situation we’re in. That might seem like a no-brainer, but in practical terms, most of us hang up on this point at times. Second, we’ve got to believe that He is good, that He genuinely has our best interests in mind. The devil tries to attack our minds on this point, and sadly, sometimes he’s effective. Third, we’ve got to believe that He actually cares enough about us individually to act. This one actually violates human logic, because the more we know about the universe, the smaller and less significant we seem. However, when these three elements are in place, we can really trust God, and as this verse says, that’s a very secure place to be.
Having been raised by parents who really trusted God, this has not been as much of an issue for me as for some people. However, that’s not at all to say I never fear people! I have failed to exercise the authority God has given me as a pastor because I’ve wanted people to like me. It’s not bad for people to like me, but I must be more concerned with what God says than with what I think people might say. He is my audience and my judge! Conversely, and just like almost everyone else, I have acted at times as though if people didn’t know what I was doing, it didn’t matter. That’s not trusting God, because He knows everything I’m doing! Even as I seek to draw others closer to God, I must keep close watch on my own heart attitudes, so that I may fear Him alone, and walk in loving obedience.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me indeed not fear man, but rather trust You completely, so that all of Your purposes for me may be fulfilled, on Your schedule and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!