The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted. —Proverbs 29:25
Do you find yourself craving the praise and appreciation of others? How is this creating fear in your life? How is this affecting your faith?
Read: John 12:42-43
Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God. —John 12:42-43
“Notice that John doesn’t say that their problem was one of poor self-esteem or feelings of inferiority. No, he pinpoints their problem as being a problem of love. What did they love more than the approval of God? The approval of man. What did they long for more than the praise that would come to them from God: “Well done, good and faithful servant”? They loved the praise of their peers. In fact, they loved it so much that they disobeyed Christ’s command to witness for Him.” —Elyse Fitzpatrick
The word loved in John 12:42-43 is a very strong Greek word, agapao. In the context of this passage, this is a word which means they lived for and were addicted to the approval of men.
Am I now 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
Galatians 1:10 poses a valid question for us to consider. When our lives are focused on gaining the favor of others or pleasing them for our own goals, we’ll be at cross-purposes with the Lord. Either we seek the Lord’s favor or we seek man’s favor and our choice affects the way we live our lives.
As you consider whether you have a disposition to fear man or try to gain others’ approval, can you identify behaviors that are linked to it?
You rarely ask others for help or accept help from others.
You apologize too much or when apologies are truly not necessary.
You constantly seek validation and approval from others.
You try to avoid conflict at all costs.
You struggle to truly believe in your own abilities.
You have difficulty accepting compliments.
You say “yes” when you truly mean to say “no”.
You greatly fear being alone and easily feel lonely when alone.
You are more focused on what you “should do” rather than what you truly want to do.
You are very focused on trying to be “perfect”, according to what you believe is “perfect”.
You fear exposing your own faults and mistakes to others.
You have trouble expressing your own feelings that differ from others.
You have trouble expressing your own views and opinions that differ from others.
You feel responsible for the happiness and well-being of others.
You feel drained and worn out from trying to take care of everyone else.
“What will best please and glorify God?” is a question that should guide and focus our hearts. Read through the following verses and note what pleases God.
- John 12:26
- Luke 19:17
- 1 Peter 1:6-8
- 2 Corinthians 10:17-18
- Colossians 1:9-11
- Hebrews 13:16
- 1 Timothy 2:1-4
- Micah 6:6-8
- Psalm 147:11
God calls us to fear Him. When the Bible speaks of fearing God it means to stand in awe of, to reverence, to honor and respect Him. This is a fear we should be seeking to cultivate in our lives. Knowing who God is and praising Him for who He is helps us to fear Him to stand in awe, to revere, honor and trust Him.
What are the benefits and blessings in fearing the Lord?
- Psalm 34:9
- Psalm 111:10
- Psalm 115:13
- Proverbs 1:7
- Proverbs 10:27
- Proverbs 14:26-27
- Proverbs 16:6
- Proverbs 19:23
Read: Matthew 6:25-33
Jesus taught that the road to freedom from fear was found in seeking God’s priorities—in seeking His kingdom and rule first. (Matthew 6:33)
In what areas of your life are you seeking your priorities over God’s?
“For a child of God, there is confidence and boldness every day. We don’t walk in fear of anyone or anything; our Father owns the place!” —Tim Keller
©2014 Susan Cady, susancady.com