The snare and the freedom from it

by Trillia Newbell

fear of othersHe lay in the hospital bed with his eyes closed and a breathing tube protruding from his mouth. I would never see his light brown eyes again. I walked around the bed kissing his hands and face. I couldn’t kiss him enough. I didn’t mean to make the nurse cry. I thought they were supposed to be emotionless during times like these, but even he could sense the great loss we were all experiencing. I left him there with my mother and said goodbye. The next time I would see my dad would be at his funeral. That night I truly understood what it meant to love someone and to lose someone.

I was 19 years old when my father passed away. He was my rock, my cheerleader and my hero. I did everything for him and because of him. In many ways, I lived for him. There was always a burning desire to please my father. Even now as I write I hope that he would have been proud of me. This desire to please my father was great but didn’t end there. In college I sought to please my professors and took my studies seriously. When I became a Christian, I was shocked to learn just how much I wanted to please people.

Fear of Man

Have you ever heard the term “fear of man”? It’s a term to describe someone who will act or say or will not act or say certain things in fear of what others may think. We see it in scripture in John 12 when the people and authorities believed Jesus but would not confess it for fear that would be shunned (John 12: 42-43). Even Peter who walked with Christ and was one of his disciples, denied him three times because of his fear of man (Matt 14:66-72). Caring deeply about what others think can be damaging and bring great despair. At least that was my case.

I remember when I first became a Christian I was very carefree and to say I was excited about Christ would be an understatement. I was also a sponge. Anything anyone said to me I took it as the gospel. As a young, impressionable Christian this was not good. I was weak in my faith. What I mean is, I was strong in my faith that God saved me, but I was weak in my Spirit and applied every correction, every message, anything anyone said directly to my heart and my situation without much question (Rom 14:1). When I learned about indwelling sin I was mortified. Could everything we do really be “shot through with sin”. I began to question my motives, actions, thoughts-everything, and assumed everyone was questioning them too!

The doctrine of indwelling sin when applied correctly should help you to fight sin and approach God with an understanding that you did not and could not save yourself (Eph 2: 8-10). I applied the doctrine of sin to mean that everything I did was wrong and though Christ died for my sin, I would never be good enough, not only to God, but to everyone else. In what seemed like a moment’s time my joy and carefree spirit became gripped by the fear of man. I was so afraid that I was doing something wrong all of the time! I feared man before but it was lying dormant and I wasn’t aware that many of the actions I did to please my sweet father was out of a motivation not to disappoint him.

A Crossroads

I was always a little different from my group of friends. I am a black female at a predominately white church, I work at-home and some outside while raising my kids, and don’t homeschool (though I may next year, we’ll see). Well that’s nothing really radical, but it was different from my small group. I often felt alone and like I needed to be the same. There was a time when I was so sure that everyone was against me that it began to affect my relationship with God and desire to attend church. Actually for a while I didn’t really want to go to church. My loyal and loving husband would remind me of the truths in the gospel and encourage me to join him. I was just terrified that I would be judged. It sounds so funny now that I no longer have these gripping fears, but it was my reality.

I found myself at a crossroads. I would either believe that what God said in His Word about me was true or I would continue to trust my own feelings, my fears, my thoughts. God says, He is for me (Rom 8:31); He views me as covered in Christ’s righteousness (Rom 5:17), and He is working in my life (finish the good work he began). With God’s power that enables me to do all things (find scripture) I was able to break from the bondage of the fear of man!

Even more important than how God views me, is how I began to view Him! What God truly renewed in my mind and heart was a fear of Him. For me to stop worrying about others, I had to start thinking about Him. I began to remember His holiness (Psalm 77:13); His omniscience (Pslam 147:5); His sovereignty (Deut 4:39); His great love (John 3:16). I began to experience the beginning of wisdom and understanding (Psalm 111:10). I began to experience true freedom in Christ and joy in the Lord. My life was no longer partly dependent on others, it was fully submitted to God!

Do you struggle with finding your acceptance and satisfaction in God alone? Sure you do. Everyone does to a degree. But if you relate to what I’ve written and you sense a deep longing to be accepted by others, you may find yourself experiencing despondency or always climbing a ladder that is unattainable. But there is one who relates and who loves and who has power to help.

Christ sympathizes with our weakness. He was tempted. He wants to free you from the bondage of people pleasing and is interceding even now on your behalf (Heb 4: 14-16). Just as He sees me as clothed with Christ’s righteousness, if you have placed your trust and faith in the finished work of Christ on the Cross, you too are viewed by God as righteous! He’s already pleased with us! There’s nothing better than that!

My father will forever be the best memories I have growing up. He was everything to me. But I have a Father that is even greater than my earthly father ever was. His love is pure, true and unfailing. I am His daughter, whom He is well pleased because of His son Jesus.

The fear of man lays a snare,but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.(Proverbs 29:25 ESV)

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2 Comments to “The snare and the freedom from it”

  1. Carollida says:

    I struggle with this very thing daily. I am ALWAYS worried about what other people think. I really need to start being more focused on what the lord things…

  2. Kierra Muro says:

    Thanks for the blog. Awesome.