The Fear of People

 

Look at the land of the Babylonians,
this people that is now of no account!… (Is 23:13)

Have you ever been so afraid of a person or a group of people that it changed the way you acted? I have. There have been times when I have been so overwhelmed with the fear of another person. Either because of the perceived power they held over me, their friendship I longed for, the status they held, or the words I fear from their mouths which I have wrongfully allowed to define me.

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Babylon was a brute strength and one of Israel’s fiercest opponents, overthrowing the Israelites when they sacked their holy city; Jerusalem. I imagine from then on out, if you were an Israelite, just the name Babylon made you shudder with great fear.

Here’s the deal with fearing people though; they’re just people. Sure, they may seem strong or may have caused some issues or problems in our lives at some point, but there is a bigger power at work in the heavenly realms. It is the power of good and evil. Whenever we allow a person or a group of persons to place anxiety in our hearts and change our own behaviors out of the fear of their responses we have given into the deeds of darkness.

As Christians, we do not have to fear people. We should have a healthy fear and reverential awe of God, but we should never give someone the platform in our own hearts and minds that wrongfully esteems them as more powerful than Almighty God.

I remember a number of years ago I had a friend who I feared. She didn’t even do anything wrong or cause me any kind of pain. My fear was not based out of a bad experience from the past, but simply, I longed for her approval. I would change the way I acted and compromise my own plans and desires to try and please her. In an unhealthy way, I prioritized her approval and was shattered if I didn’t feel as though I was receiving it.

The proverbs say, “The fear of man lays a snare, but those who trust in the LORD are safe.” (Proverbs 29:25)

I can recall a few years ago when I was mentoring a student. I could tell that she was overly concerned with trying to impress me and gain my approval. I said to her, “it’s ok to share the messiness of your life. I have a very messy life myself. This is why we need each other and the grace of God. I’m here for you, please don’t be afraid to share your struggles. You don’t have to try and impress me.”

The Israelites feared the Canaanites and it kept them from inheriting the promised land of rest and victory sooner. You and I will waste away in the desert of fear too if we live only for approval of people.

Why give people the power that only God holds? The more we trust in people, the less we’ll see the victory of God in our lives. Whenever we take our eyes off of God, and in our own hearts, wrongfully stripping our lives of the power of God, we set up people as idols, giving them the power to control us and keep us in deep places of fear.

Lord, I don’t want to let people define me. I am your daughter, made in your image. I am a child of God. I can rest in the fact that you hold greater power than any person or group of persons. I have lived most of my life fearing the opinions of people. Lord, I only want to fear you. Help me to live a transparent, authentic life for your glory, in Jesus name, Amen.

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