The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Pro 9:10 BSB
Have you ever asked yourself or thought, what are they going to think? If you have, you have walked in the fear of man I am addressing. I could be driving down the street in a jalopy or a new Ferrari and be experiencing the fear of man. What are they going to think? We all experience it in our lives to some extent. This fear often leads us to further sin to fit in and please man. Other names we see used to describe this fear are the fear of rejection and people-pleasing.
Am I now seeking the approval 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 servant of Christ. Gal 1:10 BSB
The opposite of the fear of man, is the fear of the Lord, which we can translate God pleasing. Think for a moment how much different it would be if we were all about God pleasing.
The fear of man is a big part of the spiritual battle for believers. It is this fear that keeps us from sharing our faith or even openly talking about Jesus in front of others. The most significant damage this fear does is in the area of love. God calls us to love Him and love one another, but the fear of man opposes and prevents authentic love, for one must be deeply known, to feel deeply loved. It is only when all is revealed and the fear of rejection is gone that we can have a deep intimate relationship with one another. Sadly, even married couples are often not fully transparent with each other because of the fear of man. What would they think if they knew everything?
I understand now, if we want intimate marriages, we need to take risks by facing this fear, being open and transparent with each other. We are all a mess, that is why we need a Savior every day, so let's be honest. Here is my paraphrase of a Tim Keller quote that I like.
To be loved and not know is superficial.
To be known and rejected is our greatest fear.
To be truly known and deeply loved is freedom.
I have walked many times in the fear of man and it has been very destructive. Satan has used it to steal a lot of life from me. It keeps us hidden behind masks, sometimes especially in church. It has led me to struggle significantly with close relationships, having very few. And in those, the fear of man has still had a negative effect. It is not until we face this fear and put ourselves out there that we can have close relationships with family, friends, and in the church body where small informal groups are crucial in learning to love like Jesus. The enemy starts promoting this fear in our lives when we are around other children in school, so its roots can run very deep into our minds and hearts.
Just think of how most people feel if they are asked to speak in front of a large crowd. Studies show that many of us fear public speaking more than death. The large number we are facing amplifies the fear of man. Now, instead of worrying about what one person or a couple thinks, there are hundreds to fear. What are they all going to think?
The Worship of Man Over God
At its core, the fear of man is the worship of man over God. If you know anything about the history of the Jews, worshipping anything but the one true God always led them astray and into disaster. When we are walking in the fear of man, we are walking in the flesh, the old creation where the enemy can attack us. When we walk in the Spirit, in Christ, he cannot get to us. The Bible warns that just like offense, the fear of man is a snare or a trap of the enemy.
The fear of man is a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD will be set securely on high. Prov 29:25 BSB
I can tell you from experience that this fear is not really about other people. It is about ourselves; pride, self-focus, inferiority, insecurity and self-centeredness are all involved as the genesis of this fear. Like all fear, it is a product of the fall and a sign that our focus is on ourselves, not God. The fear of man keeps our eyes only on our wellbeing, our protection and our survival. This type of fear does not think of others much at all, because it is all about my flesh, not theirs. What are they going to think of me? It often cancels out the Holy Spirit's voice when He wants us to ask, what can I do for them?
The fear of man can be disabling and only offer torment, no protection, or solution like our God given fears that keep us from stepping off the edge of a cliff or jumping into a fire. People often see no answer other than to feel sorry for themselves and avoid others. Essentially, the fear of man leads us to run from a feeling that makes us uncomfortable. The fear of man keeps us from doing things and going places, preferring to stay in our comfort zone. As time goes by, this fear can imprison a person in a cell that only grows smaller.
God's Ultimate Solution: Stop doubting and believe the wisdom in God's Word.
Once we realize that the enemy has stolen a lot from our life through this fear, we need to make a firm decision to face it and walk through it in the future. God will help. Seeing this fear for the trap is it unlocks and opens the door to our freedom. We can look back on our path and see where we have fallen into this trap. Going forward daily, we can refuse to bow to it again. A firm decision is essential, leaving all double-mindedness behind us.
The good news is that it has always been our choice to focus on ourselves or to forget ourselves so we can find ourselves. The answer lies not in trying to forget ourselves, but in focusing on Jesus. We replace our focus on self wholeheartedly with who God is, the mission Jesus has called us for, who we are in Christ and what God wants us to do, love Him and love others. We let go of the things of this world and the fears associated with it. This is a pathway to walking in Christ, in the Spirit and not the flesh. In the Spirit, the enemy only sees Christ when he looks our way. There is only righteousness, peace and joy in the Spirit. There is no fear, worry or sin produced by the fall.
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. Matt 16:25 BSB
Decide to Play for the Coach and Love the Crowd
Think for a moment of a star NFL quarterback. Who do you think he plays for, the crowd or the coach? I guarantee that if he is a star, he loves the crowd, but he plays for the coach. If he played for the crowd, he would not last long on the team trying to please everyone. The coach holds his job and future in his hands; therefore, it could be stated that he fears the coach. This is a picture of our relationship with God, who holds our life and future in His hands. Why would we strive to please or look to anyone above God?
The solution to the fear of man is found in replacing the focus we have on ourselves and those in the crowd, with a focus on the Coach. We play for the Coach (God) and love the crowd. Some people are going to like us and many will not. If we walk in the fear of man, we fall prey to the enemy's snare as we try to please an untold number of people in the crowd, so many voices, many in disagreement. This leads to great frustration and confusion. We end up acting one way with some and another with others, all to please people. This literally steals, kills and destroys our life.
If we play for the Coach, we only need to listen to one voice. The voice of our Father, who knows everything about us, loves us deeply, saved us and has promised never to leave or reject us.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. But it is not all that wisdom has to offer. Once we learn how much God loves us, love for Him flows naturally from us in return. We are no longer motivated by fear to do the right thing. Now it is His love that compels and constrains us in this world. Perfect love has cast out all fear, including the fear of man.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. The one who fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18 BSB
In quoting Deuteronomy 10:20, Jesus changed fear the Lord, to the worship the Lord and that is what we are called to do. Worship the coach and love the crowd.
You are to fear the LORD your God and serve Him. Hold fast to Him and take your oaths in His name. Deut 10:20 BSB
But Jesus answered, "It is written:' Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.'" Luke 4:8 BSBMany more New Covenant Bible Studies HERE. Jesus poured out His blood for the New Covenant of grace and truth, replacing the Old Covenant law of Moses. Believers are exclusively under the New Covenant, the last will and testament of Jesus that began after the cross.
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. Luke 22:20