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
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
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.
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
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)
…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.
Now it’s your turn
- How can we rest in God’s opinion, rather than always fearing what people will think?
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Thanks for investing time in studying God’s Word with me!
Your grateful sister, Liz