The following is an accompaniment to our 2024 Practical Proverbs Calendar. Each month focuses on a practical verse from Proverbs. The aim is to help families think about God’s word and how to apply it to their daily lives.
The fear of mankind is a snare,
but the one who trusts in the Lord is protected.
Definitions of Key Words
Oxford Dictionary definitions:
an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.
a trap for catching birds or mammals, typically one having a noose of wire or cord
firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something.
preserved from harm, especially by means of formal or legal measures.
Who hasn't succumbed to the fear of man at one time or another (or a thousand ...)? The sad truth is that most of us struggle with this daily. We probably see it easily in our children (hello parents of teenagers, I see and feel you!) but may not realise it's just as prevalent in our own lives.
Have you ever allowed your child to eat a chocolate offered them by your friend or family member, even though you'd just told your child they couldn't have any more chocolates today? Yeah, that's fear of man - that's fear of upsetting the person offering the chocolate, or fear of them thinking you're a mean parent.
And what have you just demonstrated to your child? You've compromised your authority and now they're going to think you don't necessarily mean what you say. This means you've just made it harder to execute other directions you give your child.
You've trapped yourself.
On the contrary, Proverbs tell us that trusting the Lord instead protects us. Note in the definitions above that protecting has a legal element. When we obey and fear the Lord instead of man, there is automatically a legally binding protection over us and our actions (spiritually speaking).
In other words, when we take action out of obedience and fear of the Lord, even if our actions upset other people, God is compelled to protect us.
If you're like me, you'll recognise that awful, sinking feeling when you realise you've made a decision or taken an action out of fear of hurting or offending someone. Then we often struggle with guilt and possibly self-loathing (more traps). Ultimately, we know we've lost out on something.
If we want our children to stop fearing man, we've got to set the example. So this month, I encourage you to take a good look at yourself and be prepared to be open with your family about your own struggle with this.
Pray for your family this month that you'll learn how to recognise when we are doing something just to please someone else, and ask God for the strength and courage to trust Him instead.
Things to look for this month
- Situations where you need to decide between pleasing other people, or God.
- Listen to your children, particularly when they talk about things that happened in school. Look for situations where they have been wrestling with doing things just because they were afraid of the other kids. Use the verse this month as your own experiences to help guide them.
- Notice when your children have chosen not to do things out of fear of others. Identify it to them, and praise and encourage them!
Things to think about and discuss
- Recall a time when you did something simply because you didn't want to upset or offend someone. What were the consequences? How did it make you feel?
- Do you remember a time when you chose God's way, even though it upset other people. What were the consequences? How did it make you feel? Did you feel that God protected you in that decision?