Why is it so easy to give into fear, and so hard to do the right thing sometimes?
The specific type of fear I am talking about is the “fear of man” – not fear of “men” as in masculine humans, of course, but as in “other people” – what other people think, that is. So alternatively, one could call it “fear of what other people think”.
Sometimes God gives me a chance to do something for someone else, and fear is what hinders me from doing it. Maybe I’m at the store, and I feel this urge to say something really nice to the cashier, but being rather shy and afraid of it coming out wrong, the words stick to my throat. Or I’m praying in a group, and I feel like I should pray about this one thing, but I don’t. All because of what the other people would think if I did.
Fear of man, guys. It’s stupid.
And it’s something I’ve struggled with for a long time, and prayed and prayed and prayed about. And failed with. And repented of. And tried again. And am looking to God for help to overcome.
Well, today I realized, afresh, how absolutely ridiculous this fear is.
When we give into fear, we’re basically saying in our hearts, “God, I care more about what other people think of me (or even my own comfort) than I care about following You and bringing You glory.” Seriously? That’s a terrible thing to say. And I regret to say that my heart has said it so many times. I would never say that with my tongue, but my actions have spoken louder than my words.
Today I was pondering the topic of fear of man, and my struggles with it, and how I want to overcome it completely. How when I give into it, I’m worshiping the approval of man, and living for my own desires, my own comfort, my own agenda. And how living for myself is so useless, so shallow, so empty, so meaningless. Conversely, living for the LORD is adventuresome, bold, faith-requiring (and faith-building), joyful, meaningful, and at times, dangerous and hard. Very hard. But so worth it. How foolish it is to trade the immeasurable joy of the LORD (requiring maybe a moment of feeling uncomfortable) for the fake, counterfeit comfort of not doing it. And how awful it feels after such an exchange. How many times have I – have many of us – made that mistake, failing to treasure God’s glory above my comfort zone.
LORD, forgive me.
I don’t know about you all, but I’m ready to be done with this whole fear-of-man thing.
As Christians, we are called to love others, to be the aroma of Christ to the world.
I notice that it is when I’m not worrying about what other people think of me that I am free to love others well. When I ignore the fear and not be afraid to say or do the right thing, people are encouraged, God is glorified, and I feel a lot more joyful.
When I feel like God is calling me to do something, and if I pray about it – God, is this You? Do You want me to do this? – and I still feel like I should (in all discernment), then I want to do it. I don’t want to shrink back in fear – and miss out on whatever God might have for me or others in that action. I want to be bold. I want to be willing to do whatever He might put before me to do, no matter what the cost. I want to be faithful with the little now, so later I can be faithful with much. And that starts by simple acts of obedience, simple steps of faith. The ones that sometimes don’t really seem like they matter all that much, yet they do.
What if by a small act of faith, God uses me as a means by which He changes another person’s life? What if that one thing I could say to that girl causes her to choose not to take her own life? What if simply being brave and engaging in small talk with my neighbor is what causes them to notice “she’s got something about her… this joy… that I don’t have”, and then later that sparks a conversation about the Gospel? What if that thing I could say to my fellow sister in Christ helps her to persevere in her faith during an intense season of suffering?
So friends, let’s fight against fear – let’s beat the smithereens out of it and say “Who cares? I care more about following God’s lead and blessing others than about my own comfort.” – and let’s love well, even if it seems daunting at first. Let’s not walk around with our eyes glued to the sidewalk, but let’s have open eyes to see what is around us, to be aware of how we can bless others in our lives and share the hope that we have with those that do not know Christ – in the words we say, and in the way we act. Let’s be the most loving, caring, selfless, servant-hearted, kind, compassionate, Christ-like people on the planet. And the best way to do that is by following the LORD’s lead; doing what He puts on your heart to do.
(Title taken from a song by Jason Gray. FYI. I didn’t make it up.)