An idol has become so prevalent in Christian circles that most Christians do not even realize it is an idol. I'm referring to the "fear of man." The "fear of man" encompasses more than just the fear that man will hurt, humiliate, ridicule or reject you. It includes the yearning to look good, to impress, to seek glory and approval from people. If we care more about man's opinion of us than about God's opinion of us, the fear of man has ensnared us.

The fear of man bringeth a snare. (Prov. 29:25)

The Pharisees suffered from an acute case of the fear of man and spread it around like a contagious disease.

Nevertheless many even of the authorities believed in Christ, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. (John 12:42-43)

Think of the impact these authorities could have had for Christ! Unfortunately, like many Christians today, they were enslaved to the fear of man. Because they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God, they oriented their lives to gain man's approval rather than God's approval. We are liberated from the snare only when we turn from our idol.

Ensnared by the fear of man, a college student sought advice. He was dating a high school girl who was three years younger. The age difference didn't bother him, but his fraternity brothers harassed him about it unmercifully. He said, "We love each other and plan to get married one day. Ten years from now, who will care about a three-year age difference? The problem is not between my girlfriend and me. The problem is that my frat brothers won't stop tormenting me about it."

Envision a huge rubber band with one end looped around his waist and the other end held by his fraternity brothers. They're pulling on their end seeking to exert their influence. A person experiencing that kind of peer pressure can take out a razor blade and cut that rubber band, simply by realizing and saying this, 'I'm not living for you. I don't exist for you.'"

What freedom it brings when we turn away from seeking man's approval in order to seek God's approval! We must choose to die to our own reputation and say, "I'm not going to concern myself about what they think of me because I'm not living for them anyway. I exist to please God."

Many of the false prophets were men who tailored their messages to seek the favor of man. Jesus issues a warning to those who live for man's approval.

Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. (Luke 6:26)

Conversely, Jesus said there is a special reward in heaven for those who are willing to be rejected by man in order to please God.

Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward in heaven is great; for so their fathers did to the prophets. (Luke 6:22-23)

At a football game, you can observe spectators move to the edge of their seats when they get excited. When they get even more excited, they stand to their feet. If something happens which is so exciting that they can't contain their exuberance, they jump up and down for joy.

Jesus says those who experience rejection by man because they are seeking to please God would leap up and down for joy if they simply saw the truth about their reward in heaven. Keep in mind that God's rewards show His pleasure. They also are eternal; their glory never fades!


Jamie Lash                     

(assisted by Brent Wallace)






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