“Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means safety.”
Proverbs 29:25 (NLT)
For the past couple of years I have been faced with thinking about what the word fear means. Every time I read a chapter in Proverbs and consider how I can apply its wisdom to my life and share it here on this blog site, everything basically comes back to fearing the LORD. After all, Proverbs 9:10 tells us that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” In this sense, I think fear means to revere, follow, or seek, so when I apply that to Proverbs 29:25, it helps me understand how I sometimes fear other people instead of the Lord.
Why do we sometimes revere people, or follow them more closely, than God? For me, I sometimes feel that people are more tangible than God so I seek their advice instead of going to God first. Other times, I am afraid to step out in faith to do something because I’m afraid of what people will think. What if I fail? What if I look silly? What if I offend someone and make them mad? What if they laugh at me? I can find myself wanting to please people or wanting praise from them instead of seeking it from God.
The bottom line is this: if I fear man, I am placing myself in danger – because fearing man takes my eyes off of God and results in idol worship (Exodus 20:4, Psalm 106:36) or distrust and lack of faith in him. While God never leaves us (Deuteronomy 31:8), we can find ourselves turning our backs on him when we don’t trust him. I think Noah is a good example of staying in a safe place when it comes to trusting the Lord. He risked (and experienced) ridicule when he built the ark that God asked him to build. Yet, he realized that his own safety and that of his family far outweighed the fear of people and the dangers of not stepping out in faith. His trust in God and his refusal to fear what other people would think, kept him safe.
I am convicted that much of my perfectionism comes to worrying what other people think about me. This is a dangerous place, and the way out is to trust the Lord and believe his promises. He tells me:
He is with me (Isaiah 41:10).
He has a plan for me (Jeremiah 29:11).
He chose me (1 Peter 2:9).
He knows what is best (Isaiah 55:8-9).
He did not make junk (Psalm 139:14).
He is in control (Isaiah 46:10).
He is my comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
He is my safe place (Psalm 91).
He is my strength (Isaiah 40:31).
Is there an area in your life where you are fearing man more than God? Renounce that fear, lay hold of God’s promises, and commit them to your heart and memory until you fear the Lord more than man.