Fear can be a gripping emotion. Sometimes it’s rational. If you’re hiking in the California woodlands and a wildfire pops up surrounding you, that’s a rational fear. If you’re afraid to go to California because you might be trapped in a wildfire, that’s an irrational fear. Most fears are irrational. There could be some basis for it but it’s not an actual threat yet, and likely might never be real.
We paint pictures in our heads, run scenarios and make things much bigger than they really are or will become a lot of times. If there’s a person you’re fearing it very well could be due to past or present behavior by this person. Maybe they’re a bully. Maybe they have or are hurting you. There could be real good reason for the fear. But even then when we are faced with a new or upcoming situation with that person we might over-exaggerate what could happen in our head. We let the fear build until it becomes anxiety and possibly cripples us.
Fear of Man vs. Fear of God
The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. Proverbs 29:25
The answer to the fear of man, which can easily cripple us is the fear of God which can actually free us. When we fear people we’re actually giving them a power over us. We’re saying, “you’re greater than I am, more powerful, and stronger than I am.” Perhaps a person could be physically stronger or intimidating to us. In the end, however, they really aren’t any better than us or worthy to have power over us.
God, the creator of the universe, who not only has the power to create it but to sustain and fix it is worthy of having that power over us. The fear of God shouldn’t be one of fearing how He will excise that power over us and squash us. He’s good. God is love. He cares for us enough to lay down His own life for us. So when He uses His power it is for our good and restoration not to punish or demean us. So this fear of God looks like this proverb, “trust[ing] in God” and being safe.
God is glorious, He is awesome. Not only in terms of His power, but in His grace and favor toward us. As we mess up time and again, He is quick to forgive and to restore us. He doesn’t hold these wrongs against us or remind us of them later. He removes our sin and the guilt of our sin from us. Jesus bore the guilt and shame of our sin Himself so that we could be free. Free from the consequences of our sin, but free from the effects of it as well.
Stop the Fear
Beholding the glory and greatness of God can help us to stop the fear of man. Whenever someone that we fear is before us, we can think of God standing next to them and put it into perspective. Who should we fear? Who is more awesome? Whose approval are we seeking? God will trump man every time.
The great news is that in our seeking of approval of God, we don’t have to perform better to gain it. We already have His approval. In Christ, God looks at us and sees the work of Jesus as being the merit and work that counts for His approval. There is nothing we can do to add to or take away from His work. It is complete and we are hidden in Christ and His fullness (Colossians 3:1-4).
There is nothing to fear. Even when someone tries to hold our past sin against us they have no ground. In Christ, we are set free and our sin is removed from us as far as the east is from the west. Their attempt to hold a power over us fails when we remember our freedom in Christ.
Don’t let this fear of people become a trap for you. Find the freedom and hope that you have in Jesus and hold on to His safety and security.