fear of man

How To Escape the Snare of ‘Fear of Man’

As she approached me, a feeling spontaneously arose within me…the feeling of dread. When in this woman’s presence, I feel judged by her; as if I don’t measure up to her standards; and that she is looking to find fault with me. I’m not saying that I’ve ever heard her say anything derogatory about me, nor that she has any intention of intimating me, or even any awareness that she does: I am just saying that's a feeling I often have around her.

Is there a person in whose presence you often feel intimidated? Have you thought what is behind the feeling, and how you can respond in a God-pleasing way when you feel judged and intimidated by someone?

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The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe (Proverbs 29:25 ESV). We need to recognize whenever we feel intimidated by another person that Satan is at work to try to entrap us. Usually we fall into Satan’s trap by succumbing to one of the following responses: we develop vain imaginations about the person and assign a negative connotation to their verbal or non-verbal communication, which can lead to our ‘becoming offended’ and in turn, retaliating against the person by gossiping about them, and/or becoming fearful of, resentful, or bitter toward them. We can wonder ‘what’s wrong with me’ that the person would treat me in such a way, and then fall prey to negative self-talk that can lead to despondency and depression. If we think a person is intimidating, we usually choose to avoid them, as well as situations where they may be present. I know of people who have left jobs or who’ve stopped attending church because of a person who intimidates them. 

It is so important that we don’t respond to other people based upon our feelings, but out of obedience to God and His Word.

God tells us that we have no need to fear others, and that’s true whether we perceive them to be judging or attacking us, or if they do in fact taunt or revile us. 

“Listen to Me, you who know righteousness (right standing with God), The people in whose heart is My law and instruction; Do not fear the reproach and taunting of man, Nor be distressed at their reviling. Isaiah 51:7 AMP

Whenever I allow myself to feel intimidated by someone, my focus is upon myself—or the other person— and not upon God, who should always be the object of my focus (Col. 3:1; Hebrews 3:1; Psalm 119:6; 12:1-2). When my focus is fixed upon God, I will know that there is only one opinion of me that matters: and that’s God’s! And He says that I am ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’, His child, and lavishly loved by Him! (Psalm 139:14; Romans 5:8; Romans 8:32; 37-39; 1 John 3:1) When my focus is upon God, then it won’t be on me and my subjective ‘feelings’; I won’t become fixated on the real or perceived ‘offense’ and become judgmental myself or buy into self-deprecation. Instead, I will be asking questions like,“How can I respond in a way that pleases and glorifies God in this situation?” and  “How can I be a blessing to the person and reveal to them God’s heart of love for them?”

The only reason to look to yourself when you feel intimidated is to examine your own heart toward the person, and ask God to give you a ‘clean heart’ before Him so that you don’t fall into Satan’s trap and become offended or downtrodden (Psalm 51). God’s word tells us that ‘love is not easily offended’ (1 Corinthians 13:5), and we are always to respond to others in love (John 13:34). God’s desire may be for you to humble yourself and go to the person to see if you might have offended him/her (Matthew 5:23-24; 18:15), and to do whatever God leads you to do to pursue a harmonious relationship with them (Romans 12:16-18; 14:19; Colossians 3:12-13; Hebrews 12:14). People who intimidate others because of a condescending, judgmental spirit  reveal they don’t fully understand God’s love for them, His love for others, and His desire that people love others ‘as He has loved’ them. So, rather than focusing on yourself, you can look at the situation as a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate to the other person the love that Christ has shown to you! When you feel intimidated by someone, ask God to give you His view of and love for them, and the strength to respond to them with the grace and love He has extended to you!

So I, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to you to live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called [that is, to live a life that exhibits godly character, moral courage, personal integrity, and mature behavior—a life that expresses gratitude to God for your salvation], with all humility [forsaking self-righteousness], and gentleness [maintaining self-control], with patience, bearing with one another in [unselfish] love. Make every effort to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the bond of peace [each individual working together to make the whole successful]. Ephesians 4:1-3 AMP

Prayer: Lord, help me to keep my focus upon You and Your will at all times, and give me the faith to believe that Your view of me is the only one that matters so that I do not succumb to the fear of man. When I do succumb, immediately convict me so that I do not sin against You by believing the lies of the enemy about myself, or by having unloving thoughts about or actions toward the person I find intimidating. May my identity be firmly rooted in the truth of who you say I am, based upon Your lavish, unchanging love for me! Lord, help me to be a vessel through which your love flows into the lives of others—-those who are easy for me to love, and especially to those who intimidate me and are impossible for me to love in my own strength. Give me Your heart of love for them, remembering at all times that they too are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made in Your image’ and precious to You! May the people I find intimidating become rooted and grounded in Your love so they will have the power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is Your love for them— love that surpasses all knowledge—so that they will be filled to the measure of all the fullness of You!

 (Ephesians 3:14-19)

Written by Julie Van Gorp

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