love one another

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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Who Do You Really Love?

While I was at Costco the other day I was struck by how many different nationalities and languages were represented just at this one Costco location.I admit that my first thought was that the America that I had grown up in my WASPISH hometown of Valparaiso, Indiana has certainly changed.I don’t ever remember as a child going anywhere in my town and seeing people who didn’t speak English, dress similar to me, or in essence ‘look and act’ like me.

The Lord brought to my mind that people “from every tongue, tribe and nation” will populate heaven (Revelation 5:9). How wonderful it is to know that we will be worshipping and spending eternity with Jesus and with brothers and sisters from every corner of the world, from every time period in history, for all eternity!

I am aware that there are many who have seen the changes in America who resent the change in our demographics. I admit that I am troubled not by the fact that there are other people groups coming to the United States, but that some of them are bringing to America their belief in false gods.

Then it occurred to me that perhaps God has brought so many varied people groups to the United States because, for the most part, the Church in the last half century has failed to obey Jesus’ command as recorded in Matthew 28:19, to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inthe name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.“

Perhaps since we who have been immeasurably blessed haven’t been very faithful to use the resources He’s bestowed upon us to go out into the world, He is bringing people from ‘throughout the world’ to America for us to disciple.He has entrusted us with the privilege and responsibility of sharing the good news with those who don’t know it so that they can be freed from the penalty and power of their sin by putting their faith in the atoning work of Jesus on the cross.

I was immediately convicted about how easy it is for me to nod at others, smile at them, maybe even make small talk, and then go on with my life. I recognized that’s particularly true for those who seem ‘different’ from me.I thought of how many ‘missed opportunities’ I’ve been given to share the life-giving news of Jesus with others.

I recalled hearing of a man who was on the streets of New York who boldly and with a huge smile asked some people as they passed by, “Have you heard the good news?”The people responded, “What good news?”And he replied, “That Jesus the Son of God came to earth to die so that you don’t have to!”Wow!How convicting it was to hear of this ‘man on the street’ sharing this simple yet profound message. Obviously, this man loved Jesus, and he also loved others so much that he was willing to ‘die to his pride’ and share what in reality is the only message that can change lives for all eternity!

What a difference it would make if all of us who profess to be followers of Christ actually followed His command to share the life-saving news of His life, death, and resurrection with others!If we clearly envisioned every person we meet as either knowing Jesus, and therefore as a ‘brother or a sister’, or as a potential ‘brother or sister’ who hasn’t yet been brought into the family, think how differently we might respond to people.

The question I realized that I have to ask myself is, “Whom do I really love?”If I love Jesus, I will obey His commands (John14:15).If I love others—no matter their nationality, language, or socio-economic background– I will share with them the gospel so that they too can have abundant life on earth, and spend eternity with those from ‘every tongue and tribe’ worshipping Jesus in Heaven. But if I love myself more than I love Jesus or others I will remain silent and keep the good news to myself.

Who do you love more?Jesus?Others? Yourself? What impact do you think it would have on whether you share the gospel or remain silent if you considered that there may come a day when you look across the chasm between Heaven and Hell and see people who’d you’d encountered on earth who ask you, “Why didn’t you care enough to share the news about Jesus with me when you had the chance?”

Written by Julie Van Gorp

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?