This lesson deals with fearing people. Many times, many people are afraid to dedicate themselves fully to the Lord and serving Him because they fear what people might think or say about them. I am baffled by this response but I hear it often. God knows what we are like because He created us. He also knows why we act the way that we do because of the Fall of mankind into sin. In order to help us overcome our fear of people, God moved long ago through a righteous man to write down reasons why we should not fear the people around us, why we should not be afraid of what they will think and say about us. Before we get into this lesson though, I would like to have a quick review of what we have studied so far in overcoming our fears.
Here is God’s description of the people around you. Understanding this deep truth about people will help you avoid falling into the trap of “what will others think/say about me”.
1 Fools say in their hearts, There is no God. They are corrupt and do evil things; not one of them does anything good. 2 The LORD looks down from heaven on humans to see if anyone is wise, to see if anyone seeks God, 3 but all of them have turned bad. Everyone is corrupt. No one does good— not even one person! 4 Are they dumb, all these evildoers, devouring my people like they are eating bread but never calling on the LORD? 5 Count on it: they will be in utter panic because God is with the righteous generation. (Psalm 14)
I am included in this list because this is the way that I was before I was born again and my life was transformed. I would quickly fall back to this state if I were not constantly connected to God through His Word, prayer, and service. Unfortunately, because of our sin nature, we are not inclined to doing the right thing. It takes effort on our part. That is why God calls the Christian life, one of spiritual warfare. Here is a simple list of the characteristics of the people whom you try to please by fearing what they will think/say about you.
- Living as if God does not exist (they may claim that He does with the words but their actions reveal the truth)
- Corrupt (like the red, delicious looking apple that is brown on the inside, they may claim to be on your side but deep down they are not because they are just as selfish as you are)
- Do evil things (openly as well as hidden)
- They do not do anything good (if they do something that seems good, that is only on the surface because the hidden motives are evil and self seeking)
- They are not wise (no matter how many Ph.D.’s they have, just take a look at many of our “wise” politicians)
- Their main problem is that they are not seeking after God. They may give lip service and go through the motions but it is not their heart’s passion. Since they do not seek God they will discourage you from doing the same, claiming that you are just too “radical” with your Christianity.
- They will devour you if you allow yourself to be controlled by fear of what they think/say about you.
- Their lives will be in ruins and yours will too if you allow them to control you via fear.
It is not a pretty picture is it? That is why God teaches us what He does in Proverbs 29:25 when He says:
25 People are trapped by their fear of others; those who trust the LORD are secure.
So, are you trapped by fear of what people will think/say about you or are you secure in your walk with the Lord, going where He leads? Will you trust in the Lord who wants the best for you or will you try to please those who would ultimately ruin you, take you down with themselves as they also go down with the ship? The choice seems simple yet so many make the wrong choice because they are afraid of what others (friends and family) might think/say about them. It never fails, in my 14 years in the ministry, any time I have made a major decision for the Lord, I have always had “well intentioned” people try to manipulate me, or give me the guilt trip into not doing what the Lord has called me to do. Sometimes, the excuses or reasons sound so “righteous” yet they are in direct contrast to God’s calling. I thank God that so far, I have not given in to the temptation (although it is always there) to fear what others think/say about me. This spiritual battle will happen over and over again. If you walk closely with the Lord, knowing His character and ways then you will be able to make the right choice every time. It will not be easy but it is definitely worth it.
The question is, what do I do since I have the tendency to fear what people will say/think about me even though I understand that they are not looking out for what is best for me? God has the answer. Once again, He moved through a righteous man to write the following Words:
4 Let those who honor the LORD say it: “God’s faithful love lasts forever!” 5 In tight circumstances, I cried out to the LORD. The LORD answered me with wide-open spaces. 6 The LORD is for me—I won’t be afraid. What can anyone do to me? 7 The LORD is for me—as my helper. I look in victory on those who hate me. 8 It’s far better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust any human. 9 It’s far better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust any human leader. (Psalm 118)
Once again, let’s break this down into a simple list to see what we should do in order to overcome our fear of what others think/say about us.
- Honor the Lord at all times. When He calls you, stay faithful to that calling no matter what.
- Remain faithful to God because He will always be faithful to His promises to you.
- God does what He does out of love for you, unlike people who do what they do for you out of selfish motives and ambitions.
- When things get tough, cry out to the Lord. Depend upon Him. Run to Him because He is waiting for you and knows exactly what you need.
- God is for you and not against you. You should not fear what He calls you to do. When people call you to do something then you should be skeptical.
- Nothing can happen to you unless God allows it to happen.
- God is for you and He wants to help you, for your own benefit.
- God will cause you to be victorious if you will just trust Him.
This is easy to understand from a theoretical perspective but very difficult to apply, especially when your sin nature is screaming at you to be afraid. We all face this battle each and every day but the good news is that God has already won the battle for us through Jesus Christ. Victory is ours but we still have to go to war. If you were to take a few minutes and evaluate your life, would you say that you are controlled by the fear of what people will say/think about you or are you controlled by God’s love and plan? What do your actions say about this situation? When God calls you to something, how do you respond? What do you do when people begin to tell you that your calling is not a good idea and begin to offer righteous sounding alternatives? May the Lord help you overcome your fear of people and learn to respect and trust Him, day by day.