Fear of Man

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I remember as a little kid, my brother and I learned how to make a squirrel trap for our backyard. To be honest, it was never going to catch anything, but it kept us entertained for hours. It was a cardboard box with a rope attached to a stick that propped the box up on one side. Once the unsuspecting animal went under the box, we yanked the rope and the box collapsed on our prey. Rudimentary, yes. But, in our eyes, it held the potential to catch something big and we were all about the hunt. Looking back, I’m not sure why the thrill of catching a squirrel was so exciting. I have no idea what we were going to do once we caught one, but the adventure of trapping something was fun.

I’ve thought back to that trap and ones like it several times in my life. The truth is that while I never caught anything of my own, I’ve often found myself locked into various other traps in life. If we’re honest with ourselves, I’m pretty sure all of us at different points in time have been caught in a trap or two as well. And while there many type of traps that can catch us, I’ve often found myself tangled up over and over again in the same kind of trap. Apparently, my variety of trap is the “fear of man” type.

Maybe you’re like me and you’ve occasionally spent too much time worrying about what other people think. You’ve overanalyzed your decisions. You’ve lived in fear of disappointing someone you love. You’ve held yourself back from saying something that you knew needed to be said. You’ve basically been paralyzed. You’ve been a slave to fear.

Recently, I was having a conversation with someone and they said to me: “you worry too much about what other people think.” I tried to defend myself, but I realized that what she said was true. I am often a slave to other people’s thoughts and opinions of me. I often find myself in a trap of what I perceive other people will think, and many times that has held me back from doing what God has or is calling me to do. I think we often find ourselves cowering in fear because that is where we feel the safest, but the wise words of Proverbs tell us the exact opposite. Proverbs 29:25 says, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” In this verse, we are clearly told that our fear of other people is a trap. Plainly stated – it is sin. The only place we are truly safe is when we are trusting in the Lord.

Throughout scripture, we see many men and women who sinned against God because their fear of someone else got the better of them. Let’s look at the story of Jonah and how his fear of the wicked people of Nineveh made him literally run from God (Jonah 1). That did not turn out for him so well. A few days in the belly of a big fish doesn’t sound too fun to me! Or let’s look at the story of grumbling Israelites, who after being led by God to the Promised Land became so afraid of the people who were there (because of their height and strength) that they grumbled against Moses and refused to enter. In fact, they were so afraid that they began thinking it would be better for them to go back to Egypt – back to their slavery! (Number 13:25-14:4). Their fear and refusal to trust God cost them forty years of wandering in the wilderness. Many of them were never able to enter Canaan, the Promised Land. It’s sad to think that their lack of trust and their fear of other people cost them so much.

I don’t know if this is an area where you struggle, like I have, but most of us have a trap and are ensnared by something. A verse that I’ve memorized that has helped me and given me hope is Hebrews 12:1:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

The writer of Hebrews knew that we would be trapped by sin in our lives, but he gives us hope. He says in verse 2:

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Because of Jesus, we don’t have to wallow in the traps of life. We don’t have to cower down to the fear of other people. We don’t have even have to live in shame that our past fear of others, or other traps, has caused us to be disobedient. We can move forward trusting God. We do not have to give into the alluring sin that tells us our fear is the best place for us to be. We are called to be free. God gave us Jesus and because of that, we are safe and not ensnared in a trap.

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” Proverbs 18:10.

Today, let us remember that we can boldly trust in God. He is our safe and strong tower.


About the Author

profileKAREN TAYLOR

Hi, I’m Karen Taylor. I live in Jackson, Tennessee and for the past 11 years, I’ve had the incredible privilege of working in Student Life at Union University. I enjoy working with college students and teaching in women’s ministry at my church. In my free time, you would most likely find me reading, checking out local antique stores, traveling or hanging out (and laughing!) with friends. And, fair warning: I can’t be trusted in front of a bowl of chips and salsa. I love discovering all of the new things that God is teaching me. It is my desire to teach and encourage others in their walk with the Lord and to live out Proverbs 27:17: As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.