3 “Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the LORD, both the morning and evening sacrifices.”
Ezra 3:3 (NIV)
Like a deer caught in headlights, fear of man freezes us. What we think others are thinking can intimidate. It freezes us into thinking that it's better to play it safe, compromising our convictions and scaling back our advances. And so we withdraw, go silent, tread water.
The nation of Israel went through phases when they were either fearful of men or fearless among men. When they feared and honored God more, It rendered them fearless and free among men (Ezra 3:3).
When fear of man ruled the day, their relationships with God, the world, and self all suffered.
Do any of these shut you down?
- The threat of a coach's sharp criticism leveled during a game gets you playing real tight, afraid to make a mistake
- The imagined disdain of a boss if you offer a differing idea
- The threat of a gang if you don't conform to their wishes
- Fear of job loss or lack of promotion if you openly express your faith, your spirituality
God wants His people functioning fearless and free, living in circumstance, but even more, living above it.
Here are some keys to breaking free of fear:
BUILD ONE FEAR. One great fear leads to fearlessness. Fear of man shuts us down. Fear of God renders us fearless before every other person. A “proper” fear of God casts out all other fears.
LIVE UNASHAMED. When “unashamed” defines any relationship, that relationship brings confidence and freedom to stand up proudly before every other relationship on earth.
WATCH THE FLOW. Go with the flow, but make sure that flow is godly. The time to be right is when everyone else is wrong. God will defend His people in the moments when going against the flow is the right thing to do.
MAKE A MOVE. Speak up. Act up. "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” (attributed to Edmund Burke in a speech by President John F. Kennedy in 1961).
SIMPLIFY SOCIAL MEDIA. Set limits on your intake. And make your social media output greater than your input. Not everything that gets your attention deserves your attention.
KEEP FIRST THINGS FIRST. Fear creeps in when priorities aren't clear. "When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased" (C.S. Lewis).
PRACTICE 2 CORINTHIANS 10:5. Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
Reflect: What fear is eating you up, robbing your freedom to live with great abandon, unashamed before God? Has the approval of man become an idol to you, superseding God's approval and controlling you? Which fear-busting key needs more expression in your life?
A prayer to consider: LORD, my fear of man quietly strikes me more often than I realize. Don't let me shrink back when You want me to move forward.
Help me engage social media and worldly opinions with confidence. I want to capture and filter them first before they shape me. Unashamed living, unhesitant worship and unbounded freedom in You is what I long for. Amen.