Your 50 Favorite Proverbs: #16 What Will People Think?

September 2014 Your 50 Favorite Proverbs | Liz Curtis Higgs

Your heartfelt comments from last week’s post on Proverbs 17:22 have been overwhelming—in the best sense. Thank you for bravely sharing your own struggles, your own journeys.

As you might guess, my biggest fear was, when I revealed my experience with depression, you might think…uh…well…see, I didn’t know what you might think!

That was the scary part.

So, here comes this week’s verse (God’s perfect timing), as a gentle reminder that what people think about us can’t compare to what our Savior thinks about us.

Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
    but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. Proverbs 29:25

"Fear of man..." Proverbs 29:25

Fear of man… Proverbs 29:25

If someone points a gun at you, fear is the right and natural response. What we’re talking about here is the “fear of human opinion” (MSG). Disparaging comments, withering looks, derisive laughter, arched eyebrows—all the unkind ways people communicate that we don’t measure up, that we have FAILURE stamped on our foreheads.

When we’re on the receiving end of judgmental opinions, our response is often “anxiety” (EXB). The Hebrew word charadah describes it as “trembling violently.” Serious business.

However much we pretend people’s opinions don’t matter to us, they do matter—maybe because we’re looking in the wrong direction for approval. That’s why it’s “dangerous to be concerned with what others think” (GNT).

What if they think terrible things about us? Or (horrors!) what if they don’t think about us at all?

Fear becomes a ball and chain around our hearts.
A trap without a release. A cage without a door.

"...will prove to be a snare,..." Proverbs 29:25

…will prove to be a snare,… Proverbs 29:25

When we fear what others think of us, we become “trapped” (CEB). We do things that make us look good, rather than things that are good. We care about pleasing people, instead of pleasing the Lord.

The Hebrew word moqesh, meaning “a bait or lure,” is often used about idols  (Psalm 106:36) and false gods (Deuteronomy 7:16). We do not want to go there.

Putting too much stock in the opinions of others can definitely get us “into trouble” (EXB), because (you know this) people are never truly pleased or fully appeased. Whatever we do for them, and however well we perform, they still can’t give us what our hearts need most: love, peace, assurance, and a “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21).

People-pleasing efforts “disable” (MSG) us. They make us less hopeful, less useful, and definitely less joyful. They keep us from sharing our love for God because we’re not walking in love—we’re walking in fear.

Paul learned this the hard way, then shared his lesson with us: “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).

The phrase still trying tells us Paul went that route at some point in his life, perhaps before he knew the Lord, or in the early years of his ministry. Finally, he got over himself. Got over pleasing others. Got his head on straight about what matters. And who matters.

Following Paul’s example, we can turn away from the death trap of public opinion, and turn to the One worth trusting, worth pleasing.

"....but whoever trusts in the Lord..." Proverbs 29:25

….but whoever trusts in the Lord… Proverbs 29:25

In this verse, the word but gets us ready for good news: the joy of no longer fretting over, “What will people think?”

The word whoever is an open door. Walk through, beloved. This promise is for anyone who “leans on, trusts in, and puts his confidence in the Lord” (AMP).

All those things we long for from other people? The Lord can and will provide. Not applause, which builds our pride, but acceptance, which brings us peace. Not to be popular, which has little value, but to be loved, one of His richest gifts to us.

On the days when trust wanes and fears rise, see if speaking these truths aloud might restore your confidence in our trustworthy God:

“I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.’” (Psalm 91:2)

“In God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can man do to me?” (Psalm 56:11)

“Those who know your name trust in you,
    for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” (Psalm 9:10)

" kept safe." Proverbs 29:25

…is kept safe. Proverbs 29:25

The word safe is full of images, full of memories, old and new. Holding hands with my father at the Lititz Springs Park. Hiding beneath my bedcovers with a flashlight, reading Nancy Drew. Curling up on our couch with my hubby and kitties, watching The Roosevelts on PBS.

Safe. Warm. Familiar.

We’ve met this Hebrew word sagab before. It’s translated “safe,” but it literally means “to be inaccessibly high.” Out of the enemy’s reach. “Protected” (HCSB) and utterly “secure” (CEB). “Lifted up” (JUB), well “above danger” (CJB).

David not only wrote the following words by the Holy Spirit’s leading, he also knew them to be true from personal experience: “The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life” (Psalm 121:7).

Lord, we believe this with our whole hearts. Can you help us demonstrate this with our whole lives? We choose to trust Your opinion, rather than letting people’s opinions define us. When others bring us down, we will turn to You to lift us up.

Proverbs 29:25

Now it’s your turn

  • How can we rest in God’s opinion, rather than always fearing what people will think?

Please take a moment to Post a Comment below. I read and cherish each one, and respond when I can. Your words will encourage many.

Thanks for investing time in studying God’s Word with me!

Your grateful sister, Liz
@LizCurtisHiggs #50Proverbs

P.S. Your Printable of Proverbs 29:25 awaits you, as well as colorful pins to share on Pinterest.

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45 Responses to Your 50 Favorite Proverbs: #16 What Will People Think?

  1. C September 17, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

    Oh Liz…this is exactly what I needed to hear today. Fear of people is something I struggle with immensely. I’m working on gathering the nerve to share the Good News with a friend who is very dear to my heart (two actually, but one in particular), and I’m scared to death about how she’s going to respond. So much on the line…the thing is, no matter what she thinks, I know God wants me to do it. Even if it’s just one seed, I know He can use it. Every week I see her and try to say something, but I fear I haven’t been great about it. It’s time I mention the name of God. Going to see her in a few hours…though probably won’t have more than a minute to talk…and trusting Him to carry me through whatever the outcome.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs September 21, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

      I read your comment right after you posted it, my sister, and prayed for that encounter. Proud of you for listening to God and obeying His call.

      • C September 24, 2014 at 11:16 am #

        Thank you, sister! So appreciated.

  2. Cara September 17, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

    This is exactly what I needed to hear. Today and right this moment. I care too much about what others think of me and become a people pleaser so that I don’t risk someone being upset with me or hurt by what I’ve said. This behavior and thinking is a trap as well and is my biggest insecurity. If I feel someone is mad at me I am debilitated! It is a horrible, empty feeling.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs September 21, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

      Oh, Cara. I get that debilitating feeling! I always wanted to please my father, and it’s taken me decades to refocus that desire. Now I want to please my Heavenly Father. I can still tumble into that people-pleasing trap now and again, but when I look up, He lifts me out!

  3. Cathy September 17, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    I recently moved from a county where I was born and raised (50+ years, yikes). I want so much to meet godly women and create lasting friendships. Fear of not fitting in, of not being “liked” is a constant battle. Sometimes, I just call on the name of Jesus. He is faithful to calm my shaky soul. It is still all new here, but I am discovering friends and will keep calling on my God.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs September 21, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

      You’ve taken a very brave step, Cathy. Calling on the name of Jesus is the right thing to do in any circumstance. May He bring into your life the kind of godly women who will strengthen and encourage you in the faith!

  4. Missy Webb September 17, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    I was blessed to hear you speak about Mary Magdalene at Women of Faith: Unwrap the Bible in OKC. And, I mean blessed. It was nearly impossible to sit in my chair as I heard you tell the Gospel from a point of view I had not yet heard. You have a gift.

    And you have a relatable character. I love that you speak/write from experience and emotions and struggles. Most people do. But it seems so authentic coming from you. Maybe it’s because I believe it when you say you’re a wreck. Ha. Maybe it’s your self-deprecating humor. I think it’s because I have similar experiences.

    Who doesn’t care what others think about them? I do. But, I am finally moving in life from a place of that cage in your photo to the place of just wanting to be sure I glorify God and show His love.

    You, my beautiful teacher, glorify Him and show His love. I’m a huge fan of God in you. I would study at your feet if I could. Thank you for sharing the things God reveals to you and the things He puts on your heart.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs September 21, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

      Missy, I’m so grateful God allowed us to spend that day in OKC together. LOVED it. And how wonderful that you are breaking free of that cage and are ready to focus on glorifying God rather than pleasing others. Well done, my sister!

  5. Carol Weeks September 17, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    Liz, I constantly struggle with this, especially the “what will people think” aspect. Growing up my mother used to say that a lot as a way to make me behave. I also struggle with needing others’ opinions because I have a speaking ministry and need the feedback. Honest feedback. I’m sure you know this better than I do. I’ve admired you for many years. When I grow up, I want to be Liz Curtis Higgs (I’m 62 so I’d better hurry up!)

    • Liz Curtis Higgs September 21, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

      I totally get the parental, “What will people think?” way of keeping kids in line. Hard to shake in adulthood! Honest feedback is one thing–we all need it to grow, especially if we are in any kind of public ministry. The key is to keep listening for God’s opinion.

      I contributed an article to a book releasing later this year for Women in Ministry. This little bit might be helpful for you, my speaking sister:

      Any time you’re assessed by others, throw away the worst evaluation and (this is harder) toss out that gushing, over-the-top one too. Somewhere between “Ugh!” and “Wow!” lies an honest appraisal of your ministry efforts.

      God’s blessings on you!

  6. Robyn Byrd September 17, 2014 at 6:12 pm #

    I so needed to hear this today. Today when I’ve once again realized that it doesn’t matter what other people think of me-why is this such a hard lesson to learn and put behind us once and for all. The only person whose opinion of me matters is my Lords. So let them say and think what they will. TODAY I’m stepping out in faith and resting in His promise that He will lead me where He wants me to be.

  7. Nila S. September 17, 2014 at 6:15 pm #

    Oh Liz, as I read your notes for The Girl’s Still Got It leaders guide, you mentioned the Righteous Ruth Rap so I just had to watch it. Let me tell you girl, the girl’s still got it!!! You rock Liz!!! 🙂

  8. jaime September 17, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

    I think everyone, especially teenagers, struggle with this. I’ve been guilty of it too. Many times. The more secure a person is in their faith, the less of a problem this becomes. I know that firsthand. I’ve never liked speaking in front of people but about six weeks ago I was asked to do exactly that. I have a “bad girl” past and a huge testimony of what God pulled me from. My pastor asked if I would share that. In front of the entire congregation. On a communion Sunday. Initially I was terrified. Then i prayed. I felt (heard) deep within me”I know your past. It doesnt matter who else knows. Theres a reason youre being asked to do this”. I felt a lot better after that. The service was a blessing to me and apparently to everyone else. Instead of being judged, I was approached with love after service. I opened a lot of doors to a lot of people and I overcame my own fears. Liz, I’m sure you know this scenario all too well. I don’t want to do it on a regular basis but I’m so glad you choose to do so. “Pray without ceasing” gets me through everything!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs September 21, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

      A great example, Jaime, of pressing past “What will people think?” to “Only God’s opinion matters!” So proud of you. I believe when we speak the truth, it truly does help people face their own truth and come clean before God and others. Now, that’s freedom!

  9. Marie Pinkham September 17, 2014 at 8:21 pm #

    Thank you, Liz. You have no idea how timely this articleis for me. I needed a reminder that I only need to be concerned with God’s approval, not people’s Others may not respond to me in the way I hoped for, but that doesn’t make me less worthy. My worth comes from Him, from the fact that I am His. What a blessing that you have chosen to be open with us, and trust God with the results, something I’m learning to do now. God bless you.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs September 21, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

      You’ve really hit on something important, Marie: trusting God with the results. As a speaker, teacher, writer, blogger, this is the verse I whisper before taking the leap of faith required to put my true self out there:
      “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

  10. Susan Gruener September 17, 2014 at 10:56 pm #

    What a great proverb to remind us to keep our eyes ‘fixed on Jesus’, and not on those around us. I heard a saying once that stuck with me, and you have to stop and think about it when you hear it. Along with His Word of truths, I hear it often in my mind…”What people think about you, is none of your business.” It’s their business, not ours. 😉 That lets us off the hook! Thankfully we have a Saviour that loves us with an ‘everlasting’ love, a love that really satisfies, and we can trust in Him to never leave us or forsake us.
    This was great Liz! Thanks once again for the encouraging teaching on these Proverbs.
    I’m so enjoying them!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs September 21, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

      So wise, Susan. We really aren’t responsible for other people’s thoughts. What a relief!

  11. Thelma Bliss September 18, 2014 at 1:31 am #

    I ‘ve struggled with this a’ll my life! People-pleasing
    and being afraid they wouldn’t like me. It was really
    bad, I lost myself to it. It was a snare and a trap! I’m
    Glad that I am getting over that now, I trust God and
    His love for me so much so that I no longer care what
    others may think of me. It’s freedom from that ball and
    chain. HALLELU YAH! Jesus loves me and I love Him.
    I receive my reassurance from Him now.
    Thanks so much Liz! Also wanted to say how much I
    love your books. ☺

  12. Susan Stewart September 18, 2014 at 7:56 am #

    I’ll just fall in line with everyone else who is saying, “This is just what I needed today…” If I can’t read every single thing you write, I’m sure glad I happened upon this today… Thank you, Lord.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs September 21, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

      God is ever faithful, Susan. It was just what I needed to write about (meaning learn about!). So glad it was what you needed to read about as well.

  13. Elisabeth Allen September 18, 2014 at 8:25 am #

    It was “fear of man” which recently made some hard decisions harder. Thank you for helping me to realise that … as I consider some more hard decisions! I really like the idea of “resting in God’s opinion”. It’s a lovely visual. To rest is to BE without stressing and striving about “what if he think or she says” and to thus rest in God’s opinion is a beautiful goal.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs September 21, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

      You gotta know resting isn’t in my nature (smile), which is probably why God keeps bringing it to mind: “Be. Still.” May the Lord continue to guide you in your decision making, dear Elisabeth.

  14. Brandi Luiz September 18, 2014 at 8:32 am #

    Blessed by your teaching, yet again.
    One thing I have done to help me combat the “what will the think of me?” Is that in my devotion corner, I have a hand written note saying. …
    “How lovely is your dwelling place, Or Lord Almighty! Ps.84:1” followed by the words, “I am lovely”
    I look at it every morning and remind myself that I am loved by the Almighty.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs September 21, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

      You are loved and you are lovely, Brandi…beautiful reminders!

      • Brandi Luiz September 22, 2014 at 9:55 am #

        Thanks Liz! You’re a treasured blessing

  15. Linda H September 18, 2014 at 8:50 am #

    This has plagued me for years and recently I feel the Lord speaking to me about it. I must turn my thoughts to Him as the fear of what others think has left me worn out. Hard to pull back when people close to you expect you to keep on pleasing them. I love the translations of “safe”..”inaccessibly high, out of the enemy’s reach, protected, utterly secure, lifted up, above danger” I want to keep those visions in my mind as I strive to be who God knows I am!! Thanks so much for a timely message!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs September 21, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

      You are so right: people don’t want us to change. But God does! Cheering you on, Linda. And yes, isn’t that image of being above it all wonderful? I try not to overdo the Hebrew word studies, but sometimes it really helps us hear what God is trying to say.

  16. Pat Turnbill September 18, 2014 at 10:09 am #

    Thank you Liz for sharing today. I experienced a very debilitating experience nine years ago with family members. I started a fresh new page with Jesus and haven’t looked back. The opinion of the One who knows the deepest recesses of my heart without condemnation is the One who continues to heal my heart and soul. Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Light. No one comes to the Father except through Him. Not others, whether family members or onlookers. All praise and honor belong to Him and Him alone. You are on my prayer list. You have a special talent to touch others through the name of Jesus. To God be the Glory.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs September 21, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

      This is a beautiful statement, Pat: “The opinion of the One who knows the deepest recesses of my heart without condemnation is the One who continues to heal my heart and soul.” Yes, yes, yes.

  17. April September 18, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    Thank you so much for this post. It is what I needed this morning. It has been one of those weeks, days and years for me! I tend to be a people pleaser and sometimes second guess what I am doing. In the last couple of weeks, I have dealt with a great deal of anxiety. It is in these moments where I cling on to the cloak of Jesus even tighter.

    I enjoyed hearing you speak a few years back at a Gaither Homecoming in Gatlinburg. I also have your tapes I still pull out from time to time where you share your life story.

    May you have a blessed day!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs September 21, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

      I know just what you mean about having one of those days, weeks, years. The anxiety we feel is real and can be debilitating. Praising God that he’s urging you to cling to His cloak, April!

  18. AnnMarie Dixon September 18, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    Liz thank you for these wonderful words. Words that will and can refresh a weary soul. I pray that your study of this verse will help all of us who read it. Thanks again.

  19. Joy M September 18, 2014 at 5:25 pm #

    You asked how we can overcome fear of man. For me, it’s been a slow but rewarding process. God convicted me that those I was trying to please had become idol worship. Whoa! No way did I want that. For me to see this, God used a rather angry confrontation with one of my dearest people In my life from whom I truly wanted acceptance. After I realized this person was rejecting the God who helped me make the decisions this person felt were foolish (i.e. I chose to be a stay a home mom)….I realized God in His love was helping me make the choice for Him. He was saying “who will you serve? Me or this other person? I realized over that period of intense pain over being rejected that I no longer had to be in that cage.
    I must tell you what truly changed my heart. Someone very wise asked me “does this person share your love for God or your values?” Of course, the answer was no. Then she said, “then WHY DO YOU CARE WHAT THEY THINK????”. She said this and the bird (ME!) flew out of that unnecessary cage. I look forward to many years not caring :). I don’t look back. I have no regrets thanks be to God!

  20. Virgin Jones September 19, 2014 at 2:50 am #

    I have had a hard road lately about some decisions I need to make, but what matters most is what Jesus thinks. People will fail you but Jesus never does.

  21. Christina Hubbard September 19, 2014 at 8:31 am #

    I am awestruck by God’s provision.

    “David not only wrote the following words by the Holy Spirit’s leading, he also knew them to be true from personal experience: ‘The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life’ (Psalm 121:7).”

    God does care for His children with an extra hedge of protection and tenderness. I observe this over and over: despite my not so great choices, God weaves the silver thread of His blessing into my life because I have made Him LORD for this reason alone.

  22. Patti September 19, 2014 at 8:56 am #

    Oh yes how I want to hide away, safe and secure, secluded. I want so very much to be released from this prison of people pleasing. I’m so weary of never measuring up, I pray continually for the joy of my salvation to be restored. Thank you for writing this!! Your message has touched this heart today.

  23. Cheryl Ricker September 19, 2014 at 9:35 pm #

    I appreciated the post, Liz. Thanks!

  24. Karen September 20, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

    My prayer was answered today when I read this blog. My heart was feeling very “anxious” about what people think not even of me, but of people in my family and their failures. I was so comforted today reading this. Thank you for writing it. God bless you.

  25. Lisa Schwartz September 24, 2014 at 5:30 pm #

    It is so hard to put aside my care of what people will think of me. Whenever I am faced with the gnawing fear of “looking bad” I think of a passage in Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray. Paraphrased – how can you confess that you are just a worm before God then get upset when someone calls you are a worm? Do you really believe you are a worm or not? It is a reminder to me that my fear is based on pride and the only opinion I need to care about is my heavenly Father who “knew what he was getting when he got me” and still loves and accepts me. Thank you for a great post!