The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. Proverbs 29:25
Do any of you struggle with fear of man? If not, can you tell me your secret?
There is part of me that would like to believe I'm mature enough in the faith to be beyond this, but I'm not. Fear of man keeps me from confessing sin and asking for prayer. It keeps me from admitting I need help and don't have it all together. Fear of man is a liar because it tells me I need to do or be this or that to gain man's approval, and it's more than happy to provide an endless supply of masks to maintain the facade. It keeps me from reaching out to others and, in turn, keeps me from receiving help. It crops up in what I'm willing or unwilling to say. It manifests itself every other week when I worry more about what people will think of a blog post than whether God is honored. But, it's a trap. It's fruit is loneliness and the dead-end of self-protection. Fear of man is a thief, stealing joy out of relationships because acceptance is always in doubt.
Is there a magic bullet for this? It would be nice if there was a one-shot, one-time cure-all. But there's something better. It's the gospel.
Now, bear with me. "Gospel" can degenerate to just a buzzword that gets tossed around in certain Christian circles. But it's the power of God for salvation and the only way this snare can be broken. (Rom. 1:16)
Of all the beings in the universe, who would be the hardest to please? God, of course. He is holy and perfect and His standard reflects His character. Nothing short of absolute perfection can stand in His presence. But how does He receive and accept a sinner like me? In Christ. Was there anything I did to deserve it? No. Is there anything I need to do to maintain this? No. Is there anything I can do to undo what Christ has done? No.
If this is true (and it is), then I'm set free from finding my worth in people's opinions because God has accepted me in Christ. (1 Cor. 1:26-31) If this is true (and it is), I'm free to be myself because, as imperfect as I am right now, God is transforming me to be like Jesus. (2 Cor. 3:17-18) If this is true (and it is), I'm free to take the risk of loving and serving others because I'm looking to Someone else for my reward. (Eph. 6:5-9) If this is true (and it is), I may not experience total freedom right now, but my experience doesn't invalidate what God has done, is doing, and will do. (1 Thess. 5:23-24)
It's not rocket science or anything philosophically profound. It's the simple truth of the gospel.
I need this every day. Do you?