If you asked me four years ago if I was afraid of people, I would have furrowed my eyebrows in confusion and responded, "No?"
Why would I, the extroverted people person that I am, be afraid of people? I love people! So why would I be afraid of them?
When I first started growing in my relationship with Jesus four years ago, a faithful friend helped me learn something about myself that I had never thought about before: I struggle with fear of man.
Call it whatever you want: people pleasing, peer pressure, codependency. All words that point back to one fear: fear of man.
Me? Afraid of man?
Yes, me, fearful of man.
Such a prudent fear to talk about as we begin this month-long blog series. Honestly, fear of man is a fear that keeps me from writing more often, and I'm guessing it's a fear that keeps more of my friends from writing or partaking in anything that has the potential for criticism and scrutiny. Even the most "fearless" person can fall prey to this fear.
But what does it mean to fear man?
Fearing man can be defined as putting one's faith in what man thinks about you instead of what God thinks about you.
When we put our faith in anything other than God, that thing is bound to fail us.
If you put your faith in what your boss thinks about you, then when you do something that displeases your boss, it's crushing.
The same goes for a spouse or a friend or even strangers.
Putting your faith and hope in others and what they think about you leads to fear of man, and this fear can be rather crushing.
It keeps us from taking good risks, like writing a book, singing a song, starting a creative project, or even just sharing their honest thoughts. It can keep us from living out our God-given dreams. Ultimately, fear of man keeps us from partaking in the freedom given through a relationship with Christ.
Now, there are times when we should wisely consider how others might view our actions. For example, if I'm thinking about just not showing up for work one day, I should wisely consider how that might affect my boss or the people that I work with. However, if I'm sick and I'm considering taking the day off of work to rest and get well, but I'm fearful that my boss will think that I'm weak if I don't push through and go to work, then I'm allowing fear of man to control me.
Fear of man is crushing. It's hard. I know because it's one of my biggest struggles.
But God is so much bigger than man, and there is freedom in following Him and choosing to fear Him instead of fearing man.
In fact, freedom from fear of man only comes from fearing the Lord.
That might sound like a strange statement, and it might sound weird to go from fearing man to fearing God, but fearing God is not like fearing man because God's character is different from man's character.
We'll learn more about that Monday in Part 2 of this post.
This post is part of a 31 day series called Faith > Fear. You can click here to read all the posts.
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She Laughs Without Fear