The Fear of Man vs. The Fear of God

"The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted." Proverbs 29:25

"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

"Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God..." 1 Peter 2:17

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge..." Proverbs 1:7

"In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence..." Proverbs 14:26

"The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life..." Proverbs 14:27

"The fear of the Lord leads to life, so that one many sleep satisfied..." Proverbs 19:23

There is this book...yes, I know, I always talk about books. But really, there is this book that every believer should read. The title is aptly, "When People are Big and God is Small," written by Edward Welch. Why is this one a gem? Because through it, God grabbed my shoulders and turned me squarely toward the only opinion that matters... His.

There is a phrase called the 'fear of man.' This type of fear has nothing to do with being afraid of the potential physical harm caused by others. This type of fear is more appropriately defined as reverence, awe and worship. The fear of man describes our insatiable desire to please people; considering the opinions of others with reverence and awe. Ultimately, by placing a premium upon 'what other people think' we elevate that person and yes, worship them.

How do I know about this? Because I've lived it, I've walked it. You've heard the label people-pleaser. To be a people-pleaser, you don't have to be a timid waif of a woman. People-pleasers are bold, too, as long as everyone in the room agrees with them. People-pleasers do not, though, have true opinions of their own; their current view depends upon who has 'gotten to them' last. People-pleasers are never satisfied because they await the next thing that makes them feel like 'part of the crowd.'

Too many of my years were wasted 'loving the approval of men.' Wasted. Gone.

Many years have past since I read the book mentioned above. Since that time, the Lord has taught me much. I do not have to bow to any person's opinion of me, my family, my marriage, my faith. In fact, I simply won't; because in doing so I make God so small that He is hardly visible.

Standing in awe of God, revering God, allowing God to take His proper place in our lives gives great freedom! Proverbs says that the fear of the Lord brings knowledge, strong confidence, and a fountain of life. I have found this to be absolutely true, have you?

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