Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.Proverbs 29:25
Deep down we all want to be accepted. We all want to belong. It’s in our nature. We are the most social creatures on the planet. Humans literally die in isolation. And because of this we all end up doing stupid stuff through junior high, high school, even into college and beyond in order to fit in. Socialization is part of self-preservation.
This is not inherently a bad thing. We were created FROM the community of the Creator God (“Let us make man in our image”). And we were created FOR community (“It is not good that man should be alone”). Then sin entered the picture and messed it all up. Now our relationships would be plagued by power struggles (“Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you”). Power struggles only lead to quarrels, jealousy, and even murder (“Am I my brother’s keeper?”).
Today’s verse from Proverbs reminds us who is ultimately in control. If we truly fear (revere, respect) God, then we don’t have to play those power games. We don’t have to worry about others’ opinions about us. As Lecrae says, “If we live for their approval, we will die from their rejection.”
It reminds me of the story in Daniel 3 when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego refused to bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s idol. They feared God more than the king, and they let that resolve be their guiding principle.
There are also two stories in Acts when the Apostles are arrested for preaching about Jesus and the resurrection. They were beaten and threatened not to preach anymore, but they replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges!” And later, “We must obey God rather than human beings!” I think they finally understood what Jesus meant when he said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
We must be far more concerned about pleasing God rather than fitting in. We are citizens of the Kingdom and children of God. Why should we be afraid of what anyone else says or thinks about us? In the end the worldly power games and popularity contests only end in ruin. So let’s not play anymore.