Hello, 2019. It’s a new year with new possibilities. Everyone is starting fresh, making resolutions, eating better, working out more, cleaning up the remnants of the previous year, and whatever else comes with January. I don’t know about you, but for me, seeing the pictures everyone is sharing on social media of their resolutions and changes makes me a little anxious!! I feel like if I am not showing the results, checking off my lists, or completing something every single day then I have totally failed, and, oh, what will people think of me?!
This whole “What will people think of me?” mindset has been something I have struggled with my entire life. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to want people to think well of you, or even want people to like you, for that matter. What takes this to a sinful level is when this takes the number one spot in my heart, and I let the thoughts or opinions of others determine my worth. If you struggle with this even a little bit, you KNOW what I’m talking about.
Take this, for example: you meet up to spend some time with friends, and everyone seems like they are having a great time. Then, all of a sudden, one of them gets a little quieter shortly after you chime in to a thread of conversation. You find it odd, but you don’t get a chance to ask your friend if everything is ok before everyone leaves. You spend the entire drive home racking your brain to remember if there was anything that you said that could have even been remotely construed as offensive to that person. It doesn’t just stop there. It eats away at you for the rest of the night and through breakfast the next day. You decide to text your friend and ask if everything is okay, but since she doesn’t respond immediately, you stress away the rest of your day, making yourself completely unable to concentrate on your work, or anything else. She finally texts you back later that afternoon and says everything is fine, but she felt a really bad migraine coming on while she was with everyone last night, and it’s been a long day for her. (Can we pause for a moment to appreciate the HUGE weight that we felt was just lifted off of our shoulders in hearing this news?!)
Yes, it’s wonderful that you didn’t do anything to upset your friend, but you did just spend every waking minute (and probably tossing and turning while sleeping) stressing over this. And what good did it bring you?
This is just one example of the hundreds I could have shared where I have let fear of man cripple me, and it brought me nothing but undue stress and anxiety—and probably played a part in the ulcer I got as a teenager. For you, maybe fear of man caused you to succumb to peer pressure in a situation, or to disobey the Lord when you clearly knew what He said about something, or to keep quiet when a situation called for righteous boldness, or maybe you even pretended to be someone you weren’t because you thought people wouldn’t like you for who you are if you shared your true thoughts, opinions, or values.
Whether it’s the fear of being disliked, not getting approval (this came into play a lot with my family), being criticized, succumbing to peer pressure, or whatever way “fear of man” shows itself in your life, it’s something that is crippling in our walk with the Lord because that which we fear holds power over us. As Christians, the only One who should have power over us is the Lord. And what does it mean, to fear the Lord? Yes, He is powerful and righteous, and we should be fearful of His holy wrath. But fear of the Lord is more than that. It is a reverence of His awesomeness! It is a desire of us wanting to please Him because of what He has done for us and who He is. Fear of the Lord is obedience and submission to Him in all areas of our lives. When we have fear of the Lord, that is the way God intended it to be, and good things come from it! Instead of anxiety, we feel peace. Instead of disapproval, we feel acceptance. Instead of timidity, we feel boldness.
This battle of “fear of man” is so deadly to us that Scripture is filled with truths to fight it. (All verses ESV.)
Psalm 19:9 “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.”
Psalm 111:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!”
Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Proverbs 14:26 “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.”
Proverbs 29:25-26 “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. Many seek the face of a ruler, but it is from the Lord that man gets justice.”
Isaiah 2:22 “Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?”
Matthew 10:28-31 “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
Galatians 1:10 “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
There are so many more verses, but the ones above are some that I have treasured up in my heart and call to mind when I feel myself leaning towards the fear of man over the fear of the Lord. So, the next time that you find yourself caring a little too much about what someone thinks of you, remember this: you are so worthy because of Jesus. There isn’t anything a person can do to detract from your value. Turn your efforts of pleasing to the only One deserving of it, confidently knowing that if you are pleasing the Lord, then who cares what the world thinks?! Live boldly for Him, whether it is while you are doing your workout when you can find the time, eating a bowl of cereal because it was just that kind of day, sharing what Jesus did for you on the Cross, raising your children how the Lord desires, and being exactly who He created you to be. Fear the Lord, and be blessed by it!
Much love Sweet Brothers and Sisters,