On Fear and Anxiety: What to Do with the Opinions of Others
Fear of People
Meditation: Prov. 29:25 (Reading: Isaiah 51:7)
Consider three versions of Prov. 29:25:
“The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts the Lord will be exalted.” (NASB)
“The fear of human opinion disables; trust in God protects from that.” (MSG paraphrase)
“Fear and intimidation is a trap that holds you back, But when you place your confidence in the Lord, you will be seated in high places.” (Passion Translation)
Businesses are reopening and life is moving back toward something that seems more like normal, but it's like a whole bag of cats under quarantine have been let out of a bag. Opinions and conspiracy theories are flying in every direction. We can choose from a whole spectrum of enemies----the government, the tech companies, the big retailers, the national enemies, and the media.
There seems to be a hinge between two options when one considers Prov. 29:25. On one side is the fear of men--- what they could do to you or take from you, and even their opinions. How easy is it to be intimidated by others, allowing who they are (or are perceived to be) or what they say to undermine our contentment and trust in God. Where we put our attention and to whom we will assign value are things we need to pay attention to when anxiety creeps in and threatens to shake our foundations?
Giving our attention to God frees us from the opinions of others. We find in Him one who is trustworthy, always trustworthy.
How does trusting God result in exultation?
It seems having people's favorable opinions would give us the peace we long for, but the reality is otherwise. Even when we stand with the majority opinion, it doesn't mean it is right. People are fickle---including you and me. Trusting God moves us to God’s perspective as supreme. Seeing circumstances through the lens of God’s sovereignty leads us to consider his character and covenant promises. It is in His character that we can find a place of safety. His Word reveals how He sees things. When we trust God, our spirits are lifted above our own fragile egos. We are exalted not because of who we are, but because of who we are in Christ.
God’s opinion on a matter must always supersede man’s opinion. Sometimes they line up and that’s great, but discernment in prayer is a necessary step that we must learn to practice. God created us for community and we need each other, but we must check our motives and our hearts to avoid the snare of needing something, even validation, from others that can only be satisfied in God.
Lord, I often feel intimidated by others. I am always swinging between being too much or too little. Help me to trust you above all others. Help me consider when I am tempted to lean into man’s perspective rather than trusting your perspective. Let my interactions with others be for their good so that you can bless them through me to your glory. Let this be my desire concerning others rather than needing their approval or validation.