Fear is a natural result in a broken world. Everyone lives in fear and everyone’s fears have an impact on the way that they live. Let me explain:
Several years ago I took a few high school students on a hike up to the top of a place called Heart Mountain. We were up early with our hiking shoes, snacks, and excited anticipation. This was my first time on this trail but I knew that even though it was about 7 miles and steep we could handle it. No fear!
But on the way up we were introduced to an unexpected challenge that had the potential to ruin our trip and change one of our students lives - a rattlesnake. I don’t know if you have ever heard the rattling sound of a rattlesnake, especially when it's in close proximity to your legs, so let me just tell you, it's terrifying.
As soon as the rattling began every one of the students jumped about 6 feet in the air. Their brain kicked into overdrive and the adrenaline dosage was through the roof. Instead of fight, there was only flight. The young man closest to the snake let out a little screech (I won’t give his name so as not to embarrass him for such a high pitched lady scream.)
But let’s be honest, these reactions were an appropriate response to a rattlesnake. That snake has a lot of potential. Only a fool would ignore it.
But, what if I told you that the snake wasn’t actually a snake at all, but rather, a little worm. Do you expect that the young man would set a new PR on his max vertical jump or that he would screech like a lady? Absolutely not. Only a fool would would allow a worm to trap him into a fear like that.
Here’s the point, there are things that deserve our fear, and things that do not. Proverbs 29:25 says,
“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.” (ESV)
I, like many of you, have an unhealthy fear of people. You wouldn’t know it if you saw me in a room full of people. You probably wouldn’t recognize it when I teach several hundred people on a Sunday morning. But the fact is, the opinions of men, though they are worms compared to God, hold sway over my actions.
Many times I am prevented from sharing my faith in Christ with strangers because I’m scared of what they might think about me. I will change my words or my convictions in a conversation so as to fish for other people’s affections and approval. And I’ll take way too long to cleverly type captions on instagram posts hoping someone will read it and be so overwhelmed with its brilliance that they praise God that someone like me exists.
It’s a silly existence, to be honest. Especially when you compare this lifestyle to the life I live before God. I fear men like they are the snake and God like He is the worm. I play with God and God things with little reference and reverence to His infinite power, intellect, control, holiness and love. And I contort my heart, soul, mind and body to gain favor with humans who are from dust and will return to dust. It’s a tragedy and it’s not wise.
Proverbs 1:7 says,
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Friends, it’s time to be honest about what we are afraid of. Are you afraid of being alone? Are you afraid of what certain people think about you? Are you afraid that if you follow Christ and live in fear of God, you will be ostracized and abandoned by those you love? Are you afraid to be honest about your sins, failures, and fears? Are you afraid you will miss out if you walk according to the guidelines of God? Is the fear of man trapping you and preventing you from the freedom found in fear of the Lord?
Look, we probably don’t know you. But we guarantee that if we spend time with you, you won’t have to use words to answer the questions above - your actions will speak for you. But this isn’t a roast session, this is an encouragement.
The beginning of the Lord’s Prayer starts this way, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” That word hallowed is similar to the word fear as I understand it. It speaks of awe and reverence. So, the prayer that Jesus encourages us to pray begins with us making a petition to God that in our hearts God’s very name would be held in awe and reverence, fear and respect.
Like that young man who respected the power of the snake, I pray you and I would begin to respect the power of God. Not the power to hurt you but the power to heal you and make you strong; to set you free from the trap of having an unhealthy fear of man.
We at Humbled Daily believe that if you begin to grow in your fear of God, you not only will be set free from the trap of fearing man, you will also begin to love people more honestly and faithfully than ever before. Rather than using people to gain favor and peace, you will use the favor that God places on you because of the sacrifice Jesus, and the peace that that brings you, to bless those around you.
If you do need prayer, we’d loved to raise this petition to hallow the name of God with you. Shoot us a DM on Instagram or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get to work.
Greg Brooks // Husband, Father and Director of Student Ministries at Christian and Missionary Alliance.