Summary: We must be careful to follow God and not man. And we cannot let the fear of man determine our choices in life.
Title: Fear vs. Faith – 11
“The Fear of Man”
Text: Galatians 1:10
“For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.”
One summer night during a severe thunderstorm a mother was tucking her small son into bed. She was about to turn the light off when the boy asked in a trembling voice, “Mommy, will you stay with me tonight?” Smiling, the mother gave him a warm, reassuring hug and said tenderly, “I can’t dear. I have to sleep in daddy’s room.” A long silence followed. At last it was broken by a shaky voice saying, “The big sissy!”
Up to this point in this series, the majority of the teaching that we have received on fear and faith has been related to circumstances, such as sickness, tragedy, and financial hardships. There is, however, another type of fear that is just as common and equally destructive. It is the fear of man. Far too many Christians are living lives of bondage to fear of people. We are afraid of what people think, we are afraid of what people will say if we do something.
In this message I want to talk about not doing or being all that God has called you to do and be because of the influence of another person or because of their opinion. The Bible is absolutely filled with examples of this kind of fear in operation in people’s lives. There are several types of fear of man that we have in our lives:
I. FEAR OF FAILURE
This type of fear is common amongst believers. We build walls around our lives and will only allow ourselves to go so far because we are afraid if we go any further and become any closer to people, then we might look stupid. We might say things that we shouldn’t say. We might give someone a reason to mouth about us. We will not allow ourselves to be the person that God has called us to be because we are afraid of how we look in front of others. Ultimately we are afraid of rejection and failure.
The adult generation of the men of Israel who came out of Egypt failed to enter the Promised Land because of fear of man, which amounted to intimidation.
The Israelites came to the very edge of the Promised Land; this is the land of which God said, “I give you this land. Go take it and I will be with you. I will give you the victory.”
In preparation for the battle, they sent out twelve spies to check out the enemy. One of the twelve, Caleb, was full of faith and confidence in the Word of the Lord.
Numbers 13:30; “And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, ‘Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.’”
Some may say, “that is nice to have someone so optimistic on your side.” Caleb was not simply optimistic. He was enthusiastically confident. His report to Moses and the people was, “Let’s go do it now! We can’t wait, get your battle gear, we must go destroy the enemy at once!” One of the other twelve, Joshua agreed with him. The other ten, however, brought back a different report. Listen to what the other men said in:
Numbers 13:31; “But the men that went up with him said, ‘We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger then we.’”
These ten men chose to believe what their senses told them about the enemy rather than what God’s Word said about themselves and about the enemy. God had already promised them the land, which is all they had to do was go and take it. How simple could that be? As a result of choosing to believe their senses rather than God’s Word, they moved from doubt to fear – fear of people. That fear spread like wildfire through the camp of Israel.
Numbers 13:32-14:1; “And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. 33 And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight. 14:1 ¶ And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.”
As soon as the Israelites heard this report from the other ten spies, they cried like babies. They chose to side in with the other ten spies and fear came upon them and they never saw the Promised Land because of their fear. Fear is like a cancer, it spreads. Fear of people begins like any other fear; it starts by considering the circumstances rather than the promises of God.