The court convenes for the trial. The charges are read. Innumerable counts of theft; stolen joy, intimacy between God and man. Assault on hope. Murder of dreams. The judge asks the accused to turn and face the audience. You peer closely at its name, printed on the black and white. Fear.
For long, fear has kept generations after generations bound. But God did not give us a spirit of fear.
He has given us a spirit of, “…power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV). Fear crept in when man first sinned against God. The bible records Adam’s conversation with God after he ate of the fruit. He said, “…I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” Genesis 3:10 (KJV)
Search the scriptures and you’ll find a host of other men and women who were “afraid.” David, Jacob, Moses. It seemed like no one was spared. Some mighty men, ensnared by fear. What fears, then, do we face? And how do we overcome them? Over the next four weeks, Pastor Timothy sheds light on four major fears we face, starting with the fear of man.
“The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” Proverbs 29:25 (KJV)
To really understand this fear, we need to ask a very important question. Why do we fear man? One answer to that is that man has the ability to hurt us. They can inflict emotional hurt. Disappointments are inevitable. Rejection, unavoidable. Many of us can identify with the latter. Many have stood up for what is right and yet were rejected. But we are not alone. As Christians, we will all face rejection.
“He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.” Luke 10:16 (KJV)
Truth be told, you cannot make everyone happy. Those who try often find out they will become very unhappy people. If your sense of approval is based on others, you will be like a roller coaster, tossed to and fro. Our sense of approval must not be based on others, but on the finished work on the cross.
There are two rejection traps we need to be mindful of.
1. Overly starved.
“And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.” 1 Samuel 15:24 (KJV)
Approval addicts have an inability to confront. They give in, but are inwardly angry and resentful.
2. Overly cautious.
“Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.” Proverbs 28:14 (KJV)
These have been hurt before and as a result, are too cautious. They find it difficult to trust others.
How then do we overcome the fear of rejection?
We can start by saying “yes” to pleasing God. Remember, when you please God, you please all who matter. We need to also ask ourselves, why am I rejected? Shortly after Cain’s offering was rejected, God inquired of Cain in Genesis 4, bidding him why his countenance had fallen.
If you’re rejected for doing a good cause, we need to remember we’re pleasing God. Instead of “What will they think?”, how about asking, “What does God think?”
Next, saying “no” to pleasing people. Choose today to fear God and not man. The prophet Isaiah records, “I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass” Isaiah 51:12 (KJV)
If you want to be a happy person, live for the audience of one. “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 (KJV)
Many of us pray, “Lord, I want to be more like you.” Yet few are willing to go through rejection. Jesus was rejected:
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” Isaiah 53:3-4 (KJV)
When I go through rejection, I get a glimpse of what Jesus experienced. And His courage encourages courage in me.