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
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!