The Herald Weekly Vol XVI : 6

Do Not Fear Man

“The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.” (Proverbs 29:25)

The subject of this proverb is fear. Fear is one of the strongest emotions known to man. It triggers off a rush of adrenalin in your body that increases your heartbeat, your breathing and your blood sugar level. As adrenaline diverts more blood to your brain and to your muscles, you have better mental alertness and a sudden burst of strength and energy.

Fear is an emotion that God has designed for our own good. It moves us to action when there is an emergency or catastrophe to handle. Fear is useful to keep us from falling off cliffs, and to alert us to imminent dangers, even in human relationships. One good kind fear is mentioned several times in Scripture – the fear of the LORD. This fear gives us the right attitudes of reverence toward God which leads us to shun evil and to live our lives wisely

When Is Fear Bad?

But fear can easily become a bad emotion –

Firstly, when we fear what we should not fear at all. Little children are often afraid of the dark and of thunder. Some of us may have an irrational fear of dogs, cats, cockroaches or spiders. Perhaps you may develop an irrational fear of certain people, e.g. your boss. Such fear can cause embarrassment, especially when it turns out that the thing or the person we fear poses no real danger to us at all.

And if we do not overcome such irrational fears, they can be debilitating. In extreme cases, the mere thought of what is feared can trigger off a panic attack which may last for minutes or even hours. One threatening message from Queen Jezebel was enough to make the prophet Elijah run all the way south to Horeb and request God to take his life. And that was just after he had singlehandedly defeated 450 prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel! Shouldn’t he have known that if God could defeat these idolatrous prophets, what can one wicked queen do to him? Elijah was fearful of someone he should not have feared at all.

Secondly, fear becomes bad when we allow it to trap us into doing something sinful, or when we allow it to paralyse us from doing what God requires us to do. The Bible is replete with examples of this. Abraham lied about Sarah twice because he feared that he would be killed if he were to say that she is his wife.
Fear made Aaron agree to the people’s demand to make a golden calf idol for them to worship when Moses was away. Why did the Israelites rebel against God instead of entering the Promised Land? It was because of the fear of being defeated by the Canaanites. Why did King David commit murder? Because he feared that he would be exposed as an adulterer. Why did Peter deny Christ three times? Because he feared that he would be arrested if people knew that he was a disciple of Christ. Why did Pontius Pilate sentence Jesus to death even though he could find no fault in Him? Because he feared that he would lose his procuratorship of Judea.

Sometimes we are afraid of making our faith known toothers. We reason that since our faith is a very personal matter between us and God alone, no one needs to know that we are Christians. We just like to remain as ‘secret believers’. To keep our faith secret, we may even refrain from coming to church regularly, and from Christian fellowship meetings and Bible study. And when we have meals together with our non-Christian colleagues in a food court, we don’t bother to bow our heads to say grace. We give thanks silently while eating our first spoonful.

There is a story about a young man whose church was praying for him, because he took a job during his summer vacation working in the forests as a lumberjack, cutting down trees. They were concerned that he would not be able to take the ridicule and verbal abuse that the rough and tough lumberjacks were known to dispense against Christians.

When the young man completed his vacation stint and came back to church they asked him how his job went, and his reply was – “I had a very good time with those lumberjacks.” And he added with a smile: “They did not even suspect that I am a Christian!”

Are you like that young man? Are you afraid that your colleagues may treat you with disdain and ridicule if they were to find out that you belong to Christ? And are you afraid of the unpleasant criticism you may receive if you choose to obey God instead of man? If you are, then you have fallen into the trap or snare that is mentioned in Proverbs 25:29 – “The fear of man bringeth a snare.”

Overcoming Fear

The fear of man is just like a deceptive bait that lures us right into Satan’s trap. It seems so real, so utterly convincing to us that we capitulate under its power. But if you were to take a closer look, you will soon realize that there is nothing to fear.

Just ask yourself – “Why should I fear men?” They are ordinary creatures like you and me. Even the very greatest of men will die one day and have to stand before God. So we should not fear men. Neither should we be afraid to tell any man that no matter how great he is, he will die in eternal torment, unless he turns to Christ.

There was once a pioneer evangelist named Peter Cartwright who spent seventy years in the work of the Lord and always preached the Word of God without fear or favour. One Sunday he was asked to speak at a church in the southern part of the United States. During the song just before the message, the pastor whispered to him that the US President, Andrew Jackson had just entered the sanctuary.

Jackson was a military general who became a very tough and aggressive president. During his two terms in office from 1829 to 1837 he strengthened the power of the presidency. So the pastor cautioned Cartwright to be very careful of what he said lest he offend their famous guest.

The evangelist, however, knowing that “the fear of man bringeth a snare” (Proverbs 29:25), was determined not to compromise the truth. He also knew that great leaders need the Lord as much as anyone, so he boldly proclaimed the gospel. In fact, halfway through his sermon he said, “I understand that Andrew Jackson is present in the congregation today. If he does not repent of his sins and accept Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour, he will be just as lost as anyone else who has never asked God for His forgiveness.”

Instead of becoming angry, Jackson admired the preacher for his courage. He listened with keen interest to the message and felt such deep conviction that after the service Peter Cartwright was able to lead him to the Lord. From that moment on, the two became the best of friends.

Whenever you are tempted to fear men, remember that Jesus said, “…fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28) The most that man can do to you is to destroy your body. But God alone has the power to destroy the soul, and therefore you should fear God rather than men.

But God also has the power to protect and preserve both your soul and your body from the evil designs of men. And this points us now to the way to overcome our fear of man. As the latter part of the proverb says, “…whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.”

The way to overcome any fear you have is to put your trust in the Lord. Psalm 56:3-4 – “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee. In God I will praise His word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” In Psalm 23:4 David testified – “I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.” According to Hebrews 13:6 “…we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”

These verses bring out a very important truth: Faith is the victory! If the fear of men has brought you into a snare, then let faith in God release you from it. If you have been paralysed by the fear of men from doing God’s will, then let faith in God strengthen you now to move on to do it decisively.

May we find all the victory we need over our fears by putting our full trust in the Lord.

Rev Charles Seet.
Source : Life B-P Church, Weekly, 4 Feb 2018

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