Proverbs 25:29, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”

The fear of man is an unhealthy addiction to what people may think and say about you (in other words, “man pleasing”). Most commonly the fear of man manifests itself in the sin of hypocrisy. Take for example; a new believer joins the discipleship class under the agreement to be accountable to a certain moral code, like abstaining from pornography. Over time, if the disciple begins to fear man more than they fear God, they wont confess to their leader when they sin in this way because they’re afraid of what the leadership will say and do.

Sometimes it’s true that people in leadership can mentally intimidate and abuse those under them, but in most cases the godly leader is not a “Secret Service Spy,” but rather a concerned accountability partner that desires to see the disciple succeed and achieve their goal of being free from sin! James said, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). A key part of discipleship is humility in accountability.

Today’s Proverb teaches that whenever we fear man more than God we will be trapped by man’s opinions and bound to our sins. However, if we follow the biblical pattern and openly confess our sins and weaknesses to each other we can overcome our hypocrisy and live free from the fear of man. Paul said in Galatians 6:1, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.” Godly people are important in our lives because God uses them to help us mature and live free from all sins, including the fear of man. But we must never fear them, lest our fear become a stumbling block in our Christian walk.

God’s remedy for the fear of man is the fear of the Lord. When a person truly fears God, they will fear no man (Matthew 10:28).

Other times, disciples fall into the trap of being “man-pleasers” instead of being “God-pleasers” because they fear not having a certain man’s approval. Maybe a new singer is working with the worship team and instead of being honest about not liking some of the songs, they lie and say they love them all. However, if they would be honest, without being rude or rebellious, they could actually benefit the group because maybe others feel the same way.

Therefore, the fear of man is never good and its outcome is always the following three things; (1) Guilt and condemnation to the one with the fear, (2) Shallow, unfruitful and disingenuous relationships and (3) Rejection of the fear of God. Paul Chappell wrote, “The fear of man strangles us, because we can never please everybody; but the fear of the Lord frees us, because it challenges us to live and serve for an audience of One.”

What’s the solution to those who have the fear of man? Fear God alone! Do you want to be free from the fear of man? Pray this out loud, “Heavenly Father, I ask that I will not fear man, but only fear you. Empower me to always live an open and honest life with all those around me in Jesus’ name, Amen.”


Reflection

Have you ever pretended to be something you’re not because of the fear of man?


Action

  1. Repent of the times you have allowed the fear of man to make you a hypocrite.
  2. Ask God for a deep understanding of the fear of the Lord according to Proverbs 8:13.
  3. Live your life with honesty, transparency and the fear of the Lord.

One Year Reading Plan

Jeremiah 1:1-2:30, Philippians 4:1-23, Psalm 75:1-10, & Proverbs 24:17-20. Click here to read online.