Entrapped by the Fear of Man

Posted on February 24, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Devotional Reflections

The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted” (Proverbs 29:25).

There may be a few people who don’t give a flip about what people think, but most of us are inclined to need the approval of others. In fact, upholding an image in the eyes of people and guarding our reputation often becomes an obsession for many. We may not be driven by lack of confidence or a low self-image but just about everyone wants to be liked, or at least for others to think favorably about us.

Conflict and having to deal with disagreements is to be avoided at all costs. Criticism can be absolutely debilitating. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to be a people-pleaser at all costs even to trying to maintain the pretense of being what family and friends expect us to be. Young people learn early the necessity of engaging in activities and behavior they know to be inadvisable and contrary to the values they have been taught in order to be popular with the “in” crowd.

The Bible warns us that fearing man–what others say or think about us–is not only dangerous, it can be destructive. The alternative is to recognize that God is our security. Being true to Him and trusting Him is not only the path to fulfillment, it is the only way to be successful. Trying to please men and satisfy everyone’s expectations leads to stress and inevitable compromise that will always fail. Faithfully following God and being true to Him gives one peace and confidence in spite of circumstances and what others think.

The Psalmist recognized this in proclaiming, “In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?” (Ps. 56:4), and “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man” (Ps. 118:8). We are always going to be disillusioned and disappointed when we trust in men. We have a distorted perspective of life when we think our reputation among others is more important than being true to God and pleasing Him.

Certainly it is not easy to endure misunderstanding, criticism and even slander. It is natural to want to avoid being the object of gossip and opinions that smear our reputation. But that should not be of concern if we are walking in righteousness and are true to God. “Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is My instruction: do not fear disgrace by men, and to not be shattered by their taunts” (Isaiah 51:7).

Paul captured the essence of making the right choice in this dilemma. “For am I seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). You can’t have it both ways. Following God will always be at odds with the standards and desires of the world, but the greatest hope of the kind of reputation and respect we all desire among men is to become a bond-servant of God, yielded in total submission to Him and His Lordship.

Leave a Reply

More News