MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Monday, June 1st. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Up next, Trillia Newbell on overcoming the fear of man.
TRILLIA NEWBELL, COMMENTATOR: Have you ever heard someone talk about you behind your back? I have. It’s strange. It’s painful. But it also has the ability to color the way you view others.
I don’t trust others easily. It takes work for me to believe that people are genuine. But another unfortunate side effect is that I have to fight fear.
Proverbs 29:25 highlights the type of fear I’m thinking of: “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.”
There are many ways that the fear of man manifests itself in our thoughts and in our actions. We may change our behavior hoping to appeal to the watching eye of others. We may resist speaking Biblical truth in fear of rejection. We may be silent when it’s time to speak.
The fear of man places other human beings at the center of our affections rather than the Lord. That dishonors God. We are essentially worshipping other image bearers. When we fear what others think of us, we believe that that person’s opinion of us is more important than God’s opinion of us.
God gave us some practical insight into what this fear might look like. We see it in the story of Peter as he rejected Jesus. Jesus predicted that his friend and follower, Peter, would deny Him three times. Peter was adamant that he would not.
Well, when pressed, Peter does deny Jesus (Luke 22: 31—34; 54—62). If you are familiar with Peter’s story, then you know he repented of that sin and boldly proclaimed the gospel to a multitude of people (Acts 2:14—41). God is a redeemer who uses broken people.
No doubt we are under some heat in our current cultural moment. But if you think this is bad, think about the first century church. They faced incredible pressures. Peter was afraid to die because Jesus was literally being seized—death was imminent and real.
But God doesn’t compare our troubles and our fears. He commanded them as He commands us: fear not. Our American culture may not produce the kinds of persecution that many Christians experience around the world, but it can produce a similar type of fear.
The question for you and me is, are we going to shrink back, or stand up—with Jesus?
When we see injustice in the world—knowing that God is just—are we going to stand for righteousness or cower in fear? When we speak with someone who needs to hear the truth of the gospel, are we going to speak it?
None of us will do this perfectly. There will be times when we ought to speak and don’t. Sometimes we will care more about our neighbor’s opinion than the Lord’s. But we can pray for boldness and courage.
Proverbs 29:25 says those who trust in the Lord are safe. Because of that, we don’t need to fear the opinions of others. God is our refuge and strength. So we can speak a better word to our broken world.
I’m Trillia Newbell.