Summary: A practical teaching on the fear of man vs. the fear of God and how both impact a person's destiny and influence.
Once upon a time, an elderly man was traveling with a boy and a donkey. As they walked through a village, the man was leading the donkey and the boy was walking behind. The townspeople said the old man was a fool for not riding…so to please them, he climbed up on the animal’s back. When they came to the next village, the people said the old man was cruel to let the child walk while he enjoyed the ride. So…to please them, he got off and set the boy on the animal’s back and continued on his way. In the third village…people accused the child of being lazy for making the old man walk and the suggestion was made that they both ride. So…the man climbed on and they set off again. In the fourth village…the townspeople were indignant at the cruelty to the donkey because it was made to carry two people. The frustrated man was last seen carrying the donkey down the road.
Too many of us are carrying the donkey.
Who are you going to live your life trying to please? Who’s approval will you crave? Who’s opinion is the level of your success measured by?
The world calls it “peer pressure” or people pleasing. The Bible calls it the “fear of man”.
At it’s core…the “fear of man” is about our desire for approval and validation. There’s nothing wrong with people approving of us. If nobody likes you…that’s not good either. However…If we aren’t careful…our consuming desire to please people can actually get in the way of our pleasing God.
I started to call today’s sermon “Looking for Likes in All the Wrong Places.” Facebook introduced their “like” button in 2009…five years after its initial launch. There have been over 1.13 trillion likes on Facebook since it introduced the “like” button. That’s 4.5 billion “likes” every single day and 3,125,000 new “likes” every minute. That’s a lot of likes. We obviously like to “like” and we like to be liked…don’t we.
In a world where everyone is seeking the affirmation of others…it’s vitally important that we don’t develop an unhealthy need for the approval of man. Luke 6:26 sounds the alarm: “There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them.” (The Message)
Wanting approval and needing approval are two very different things. We all want approval. And we do some pretty funny things in order to gain it. People’s approval:
It’s the source of toupee’s and comb-overs everywhere.
Have you ever changed something about yourself in the hopes of other’s liking you more?
Ever laughed at something you didn’t think was funny…just because you didn’t want to be the only one not laughing?
Ever dressed a certain way or done something stupid just to “fit in” or be “accepted”?
Ever listed to certain music (that you didn’t like)…just because your friends thought it was cool?
Ever not worshipped as expressively on the outside as you felt on the inside because you’d feel embarrassed?
What about this one: Have you ever acted like you “get it” or are “in the know”…when in fact you don’t have a clue?
Ever avoided asking for advice or help because you didn’t want to look incompetent?
How many have done this?: Your driving someplace and you’re just kinda in your own little world as your favorite song is blaring on the radio. All of a sudden…totally unaware…you’re singing at the top of your lungs. You’re having a blast. Your own little party. You feel alive…you’re having so much fun…loving life. But that changes in a nanosecond. Why? Because right as you’re belting out the chorus…you look over to your left and someone notices you singing. And I mean…the concert comes to a crashing conclusion. The fun is over and you quickly try to play cool…kinda like somehow someway…you’ll make them believe they never really saw what they just witnessed. You’re never gonna see these people ever again…never…yet you feel humiliated…embarassed…totally exposed. Why? Because you care about what people think about you. You even want the approval of total strangers.
Lecrae - “If you live for people’s acceptance, you’ll die from their rejection.”
Proverbs 29:25 - “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.”
Fear: Gives an object or a person power. For Example…a spider has very little power unless you see one where it shouldn’t be. It causes my girls to scream. It literally paralizes them…they can’t bring themselves to finish whatever it was they were doing when they saw the spider. Their fear gives the spider power over them. The fear of man…lays a snare…it gives people power over us that they shouldn’t have.
And here’s where the problem lies…we obey the one we fear. The risk of being consumed with pleasing people is that you end up living your life for other people instead of God.