“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.” (Proverbs 29:25 ESV)
There is a certain kind of fear that is particularly enslaving. The fear of other people is a trap that will ensnare you and inhibit you from living as God would have you to live. Ordering your life according to what other people might think or say leads to a sort of paralysis. We become indecisive and inactive as we worry about others’ opinions and reactions. We fear their potential displeasure, disappointment, or disagreement with our decisions. Because we fear negativity from others, we simply do nothing so as to avoid any confrontation or consequences. We tie our happiness to what we think others may think about us.
This kind of fear reveals our insecurity. When we fear man, we show that our confidence rests in their approval. We feel assured by their praise; we feel anxious in their disapproval. We are essentially placing our trust in man. So we live our lives entrapped in fear of what others may think about us or do to us.
What is the antidote to living in such fear? Placing your trust in the Lord rather than man. As Solomon writes, “Whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” When you put your confidence in the Lord, you no longer need to feel insecure and anxious. You no longer have to fear the opinions and reactions of others. When you seek the Lord’s approval in your decisions, you need not worry about what others may think. You are safe when you order your life according to what the Lord thinks as found in His Word.
Remember that “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7 ESV); and we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6 ESV).
Trusting in the Lord frees us from the fear of man. This fearlessness frees us from a trap that paralyzes us and prevents us from living our lives in a God-pleasing way. When you are free of living by others’ approval, you will find it easier to make decisions and take action because you trust in the Lord’s approval. In His approval you will find true security and experience real happiness. Christians know that their approval before God has been won by Jesus Christ. There is no condemnation and no fear for those united to Christ by faith. So we are free to pursue lives of radical, faith-filled obedience.
Live in the freedom of fearlessness. Trust in the Lord and do what pleases Him. Sometimes pleasing the Lord pleases others. But if pleasing the Lord displeases others, leave it to the Lord and follow Him. For your confidence and security rests in the Lord. In Him you are free of fear.