Proverbs 29:25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.
This admonition is implied or illustrated several other times in the Bible, but nowhere as succinctly this. These are indeed words to live by! The thing is, we aren’t to ignore the people around us, being totally self-centered; that completely violates the 2nd Great Commandment. (Matthew 22:36-40) We are indeed to love our neighbor as ourselves, but we must never place a person’s opinion over God’s. That is the snare this verse is talking about. That is also what political correctness is all about. Words can be tricky things and we are not to harm people needlessly with them, but political correctness ties us in such knots that we can’t say what we mean, or even what is true. Also, peer pressure can be a powerful motivator for either good or bad. If we move in a superlative peer group it can keep us focused on God, but very few of us do that. The vast majority of first experiences with such things as tobacco, alcohol, or worse come from peer pressure. We don’t have an innate desire for such things! The best guard against such things is a clear, correct awareness of God. He is not waiting with a stick to bop us, as some imagine Him, but He is holy, powerful, and absolutely dependable. Keeping that awareness will indeed protect us from all sorts of unnecessary junk.
I have struggled with fearing people and their opinions, as I think everyone has. After all, we were created as social beings. However, I was incredibly blessed to grow up in a home environment that gave me a largely Biblical world view. I have always known that God was my Creator and that He loved me, and that knowledge is a treasure indeed. However, that hasn’t kept me from, at times, being more concerned with “fitting in with the group” than with pleasing God. That never ends well. As a pastor, I have sometimes failed to correct people from a fear of their reaction, and that has only led to more problems. I am to love people with God’s love and rejoice when they reciprocate, but focus on resting in God’s love rather than seeking the approval of people.
Father, this verse is so very true, at times painfully so. Help me indeed place You first in every part of my life and heart, and lead others to do likewise, so that we may avoid all the snares the devil sets for us and walk in all that You intend, for our blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!