“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6)
In Christian circles, we talk about the “fear of man” a lot. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that phrase used outside of the spiritual context, which makes sense.
If you don’t believe in God and the afterlife, then you have EVERY reason to fear “man” (other people), because there is nothing else to life other than what’s in front of us here. That means that what other people do to you can control you and your fate. What other people say and think about you can define who you are. Whether or not other people like you or need you can determine your value.
And if that’s the case, then yes, you SHOULD fear man because man can do a lot to you.
But there is an alternative, and that is recognizing there is a God who has not only created you, but loves you and has made a way for you through Jesus to have victory over your fears, including the fear of man.
He’s taken the burden of pleasing man away and assures us that if we’re walking in obedience to Him, then nothing man can do can stop us until we’ve completed the plan He has for our life. He’s taken our absolute dependency on other people out of the equation, and reminds us that HE is our Provider, our Sustainer, our Comforter, our Source of Hope, our Healer, our Merciful Judge, and our Gracious Savior. And that my friends, is why we need not fear man; for if God is for us, who can stand against us? (Rom. 8:31)
As Jesus was preparing his disciples for future persecution, He encouraged them by saying, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Mat. 10:28)
With the assurance of God’s promises and the power of the Holy Spirit giving them a peace and strength that supersedes anything of this world, the Apostles went on to proclaim the gospel and build God’s church. And they did so with joy and purpose, even while most were martyred and violently killed.
It was evident that their fear (respect, reverence, and love) of God far outweighed their fear of man, and it led them to faithfully fulfill the purpose that God created them for. They now live forever and rejoice in glory with their Creator, and the conditions of their past life are but a speck in eternity.
Their lives were a testament to the Lord being on their side. Is He on your side and are you living out of reverence for Him, or are you catering to the fear of man?