“The fear of man brings a snare,
but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.”
(Proverbs 29:25 NASB)
It is always disastrous. Man-fearing is the deadly drive to be liked by others—to please others at all costs.
The love of human praise and recognition can take you where you do not want to go and cause you to give what you never wanted to lose.
It begins in our childhood, as we desperately seek the approval of others on the school playground—the lure of popularity. And most people (most) never outgrow this playground passion.
Everyone wants to be liked, noticed, approved of, recognized. This is natural, designed by God to drive us to Him (for only He can give what our hearts desire).
But, if we are not careful, we will look to others for this satisfaction. In so doing, we allow them to become our god—living to please them, which is idolatry of the first order.
When we look to man for our ultimate approval, we live our lives pushed by every whim of current human fad and political correctness. Others literally determine our behavior.
We compromise for popularity. It affects our work, our recreation, our religion, our emotions, and our joy.
When we think we are approved by others, we are temporarily happy. To lose this supposed acceptance is devastating. We become addicted to people’s elusive opinions, each high and low fueling the addiction even more.
The tragic reality is that people’s love is imperfect and always limited. We simply cannot find our soul’s satisfaction there, so we learn to live with a constant ache. Convinced that we must be liked, we try harder, look to the next new relationship, or fall into deeper despair.
The only remedy is to trust in the Lord. We must look to Him and let Him satisfy our heart, for His love IS perfect and complete.
He who does this is exalted. He is lifted up to a higher plane of living, far above the world’s opinion and the drive for popularity and recognition.
Several versions translate this phrase to say that this man is “safe.” He has risen above the deadly snare of man-fearing.
“Our souls are restless, O Lord, until they find their rest in Thee,” Augustine said. If you follow Christ and increasingly realize the depth of His perfect love for you, that you are “accepted in the Beloved” (NKJV), your heart will settle into increasing rest. Like a child taunted by bullies, who runs home and rests in his mother’s arms, this approval satisfies your soul.
In those arms, the need for others’ approval fades into oblivion. The apostle whom Jesus loved rested on this heavenly breast. “We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us,” John said. And “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:16,18).
Why do you do what you do? Are you driven, deep in your soul, by a restless desire to be liked by others? To receive their approval and recognition?
Look deep and long, for the seeds of this deception may be rooted and growing underneath almost everything. See this idolatry, this man worship, for what it is, and understand its deadly snare.
Then ask God to show you His perfect love. Pursue this understanding in the Scripture, experience it in prayer and genuine worship, and lean into Him.
Continually repent of looking to anyone else. Let Him be the one God you live for and love.
Run home and be safe.