“The fear of man is a snare, but the one who trusts in the Lord is protected.”
This verse in Proverbs describes many of us to perfection. When we spend our time and energy worrying about what others think of us, or being afraid of offending someone, it can definitely become a snare. True, we may have legitimate concerns about being offensive to someone; it is not wrong to be careful how we treat others. But most of us take it too far, and instead of just being circumspect or sensitive to others, we obsess about how people view us.
I have been reminded of this “fear of man” several times over the last few days in random conversations with other people.
“She asked me what I thought, and I was afraid to tell her the truth.”
“They dropped in unexpectedly, and I was so embarrassed at how the house looked.”
“She asked me if I was offended at what she said, but I felt awkward to tell her yes, it bothered me.”
“I hated to admit to him that I didn’t keep my yard looking as nice as his, so I pretended I was a lawn-mowing freak too!”
“She was horrified that anyone would let their child do that, so I pretended it bothered me, too.”
Responding in love to someone else is always appropriate. But I want to learn to recognize the difference between placating and dishonesty. The fear of man described in Proverbs speaks to the fear that causes us to be too concerned over what others think, a fear that can control our lives. Rightfully, it is called a “snare” for a reason. A person or animal caught in a trap has lost their freedom. There is pain, discomfort, no freedom of movement, no sense of security.
I want to learn how to live, walk, and talk with honesty and integrity, not afraid of what others think, but able to express myself with tact and humility.