The fear of man lays a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.
Living as I do in the sphere of human relationships, it is very easy to let social interactions become influenced by the fear of man. There are three areas I immediately see this affecting me. The first is the snare of the church. Fear can creep in easily in ministry, when words and actions that I do are under constant scrutiny by my brothers and sisters in the flock. It is easy for me to want to be liked, much harder for me to agree that what I am called to do is to show people how to live as God has decreed. There is a temptation to soften the truth of scripture to gain acceptance. But I must seek to please God, not people.
There is also the snare of politics. The picture of the snare in this proverb warns me of the way snares are subtle. They are disguised and dangerous. The fear of man slowly and almost imperceivably pulls us from faith in God. Having just completed this election cycle, I've had to struggle and fight (as has most of the American church) with balancing my responsibility as a citizen, the limits of broken secular authority, and the holy sovereignty of God. And I am sure this was seasoned much with the fear of man. I'm not going to think I acted as purely as I could have in that process. I sincerely believe though that politics has the strong potential to be a snare. And so I must stay vigilant in faith so that my heart trusts the Lord, and not human authority or mere earthly powers.
Sometimes I fall to the snare of self. This is fear of man that I impose upon myself. I have to guard against this because out of necessity I need to be a disciplined man. I have to impose certain systems and ordered actions into each day of my life in order to get things done. And I can make these systems so dominant that they control me rather than my work. The rules take over. And when that happens, I have a form of the fear of man (really it is legalism) that can pull me from the grace of the gospel.
Teach me to fear only You. I trust Christ for salvation because only His death and resurrection could save me from sin and give me life. And His kingdom always trumps all others. Pull me from these snares, my Lord.