Different people have made lists of ‘The top ten fears’. These fears handicap the present, and block the anticipation of joy in the future. I haven’t found a list of fears that includes ‘the fear of man’ and yet the Bible says a fair bit about it, and in ministry it’s a common fear. Out text for today says that it proves to be a snare, which traps us so tightly that we fail to trust the Lord, and put our faith in Him.
Life can be governed by what we fear. Fear of people is inevitably about not getting the things we want, like being accepted, valued, esteemed, approved, or loved. Many have grown up with the core belief that trying hard to please people and do what they want is a means of earning love and acceptance. This is the devil’s snare, because through it we lose the capacity to be free and hopeful in the present.
When we fear people we usually become people pleasers and are obsessed about what others think of us or say about us. We focus on getting things right, so we feel good. When you fear someone you allow them to control you. In consequence you become unreal, and live out of a false identity instead of your true identity as a child of God.
People pleasing makes you obey people, rather than God. It makes you respect people and their opinion rather than God, and what He thinks about you. In fact it really means that you give someone else more authority in your life than God, and lose sight of your real identity – a dearly loved and protected child of your Heavenly Father.
When the Jews sarcastically asked Jesus, “Who do you think you are,” He remained secure in His Father. He had no doubt about His identity. Jesus was free! He said that He sought His Father’s honour and glory, not His own. Jesus could say, “I only do what the Father tells me,” and I always do what pleases the Father” (John Chapter 8). In consequence, Jesus was not always popular. At times we will be unpopular, if we live a life style of putting God first.
When we turn to our Father in heaven, and learn to trust and obey Him as Jesus did, we’re set free from the fear of people, whoever they are. When our motive in life is to live in uncompromising obedience to Jesus and to leave the consequences with Him, what do we have to fear? ‘Those who trust in the Lord are kept safe’. They live daily in the promise of Jesus, ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.’ The peace that Jesus gives is independent of circumstances. It is peace of heart and mind.
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