“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” - Galatians 1:10
The fear of man is something that everyone struggles with to one degree or another. It has a way of sneaking onto our lives and controlling us in ways we may not even be aware of. Our speech, actions, even thoughts can be controlled by this fear. It takes many forms. Talking a certain way or not talking a certain way. Doing something you would normally do or perhaps not doing something you usually do in order to gain approval or to look a certain way to others. These actions usually are not in line with who you actually are and they are forced or fabricated to make you look a certain way. We all do it in one form or another.
Caring too much about the approval of man has been the downfall of many a Christian. The consequences of this behavior can be very devastating. Fear of man has at its root, pride. It’s simply the result of pride and the desire for approval. It’s putting our own wants and reputation above serving God and caring about His will. When we do this, when we care so much about looking a certain way in front of our fellow man, we focus on the wrong thing and lose perspective of why we are really here.
The fear of man and the desire for man’s approval robs God of His due glory in our lives. When we focus on our own fame and exaltation, it’s impossible to at the same time be focusing on living our lives for God. In this process, we lose our convictions (because they must be fluid if we are going to please men), our focus on God’s glory (because we cannot bring ourselves glory and God at the same time), and our credibility (in order to please everyone, we must have no convictions, no standards and no mind of our own). In short, the fear of man causes us to be spineless Christians that care more about ourselves than God. It’s a hard truth, but no less vital to understand.
Something very important we should realize is that the fear of man and seeking the other’s approval is directly apposed to the Gospel. This is the greatest consequence of this sin, the Gospel suffers. We were told by our Savior to expect to be unpopular. We were told to expect persecution because of the truth that we share. We were told that we are not of this world and to avoid seeking its pleasure and approval. Christ told us to expect the ridicule of man, not their approval. Yet we strive and bend over backwards wanting people to like us or see us a certain way and the Gospel always suffers.
The Gospel is the most offensive thing you will ever tell a person. Hands down. Of course as long as it’s a true Gospel. There are many these days spreading a false, social gospel that leaves everyone feeling very warm and comfortable on their way to Hell. This isn’t what I’m talking about. I’m talking about a true, unfiltered, biblical Gospel that tells the person to repent of their sin and cling to the salvation made possible by Christ. This is offensive to the nonbeliever. You are telling them they have a problem they can’t fix. You are telling them they are dead in their sin without Jesus. You are telling them without Christ they are doomed to eternal torment. The Gospel is the most offensive thing you will ever tell someone.
Yet that is why we are here. We are here to share the true Gospel with everyone. We are here to serve God and bring Him glory through our lives. We are here to serve others and make Jesus really big. We are here to make less of ourselves and much of Christ. This is our mission. This is our calling. Fear of man is simply a reversal of that calling. We want to make ourselves big instead of Christ. The key to overcoming this is simple, yet hard to do. The key is to train ourselves to constantly be focusing on how we can make much of Christ in the moments that we are in. How do we live our lives in light of the Gospel? What are some areas in my life that I have not surrendered over to Christ and His lordship?
When I feel the need to make myself look good, I must remind myself that I am here for a bigger purpose. I am here for the service of my Lord and King. I am here as a servant of the Most High and it's His fame I promote, His work I glory in and His might I exalt. That is the key. Make much of Christ and little of yourself. You will find such contentment and purpose in this. We are truly most satisfied in Christ when we are making much of Him. Bring Christ glory this week!