Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. – Proverbs 29:25 (NIV)
Our everyday decisions are often affected by our understanding of current events, past experiences, assessment of consequences, hope for results, and learned preferences. However, perhaps an even bigger factor is, who is looking at us and what are they thinking. King Solomon tells us in Proverbs 29:25, that if we fear man, we will find ourselves in a trap, but there is safety for those who trust in God. The Hebrew word for “fear” in this verse, according to Strong’s Concordance, is “charadah”, which can be translated as “anxious care”. Alternatively, the Hebrew word for “trust” in the same verse is “batach”, which can be translated as being “secure”. Here we see that fear and anxious care is the opposite of trust and security. In other words, if we anxiously care about who is looking at us and what they think, we will eventually be trapped, but if we find our security in God, we will be safe.
Coming from a background of Taekwondo and health science, I have learned that our focus matters a lot. I’ll always remember having to do single leg balancing exercises in Taekwondo class with my dad as the teacher reminding me to focus by looking at a single spot, as this was an effective strategy to remaining still. When you’re eyes wander, there is a greater tendency to lose balance and fall. Later on I picked up snowboarding and was taught that in order to make good turns on your board, it’s important look in the direction you want to move toward and your body will naturally follow. How interesting… Even beyond sports, I recall going to physiotherapy for some lower back ache and was told to ensure I looked straight ahead when jogging, because if I were to run straight while looking elsewhere, my body would be twisting internally, resulting in body misalignment and pain. I was shocked because when I jog, I tend to look around a lot. Instead, I had to learn to focus straight ahead when I jogged, despite my curiosity to constantly look to my left and right to observe what was there. All of these examples make it clear that as human beings, what we place our focus on matters. We are designed to have a single focus that we move toward and become like – His name is Jesus!
When everyone is doing something that doesn’t seem right to you, do you go along with it because you care more about people’s acceptance of you? Do you refrain from letting people know you’re a Christian because you’re scared of the comments they would make? Are you afraid of boldly being your confident self for fear that others may not like what they see? Have you held back from pursuing a dream God has placed in your heart, because you’re afraid of making a mistake, jeopardizing your reputation with others? In all of these questions, we are faced with a choice between fear of man and trust in the Lord – between anxious care about what others see or think about you and having a sense of security in who God is in your life. I truly believe the choice we desire to make, all begins with where we place our focus – what are you looking at? You and I were created to place our focus on the Lord Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), our healer, our provider, our wisdom, our joy, and our ultimate source of everything we need. When we look to everything and everyone else for assurance, acceptance, value, purpose, guidance, or opinion, we often find ourselves trapped or misaligned with what God desires for us! However, when we look to Jesus for the same things, we discover His blessing, His wisdom, His peace and His divine power.
You might be wondering, so how do I focus on Jesus every day in all my doings? Essentially, how do I trust in Him as King Solomon suggested in Proverbs 29:25 so that I may be securely safe, as opposed to being fearfully anxious? It’s not enough to only acknowledge Jesus at church every weekend or to simply think about Him throughout the week. We must consistently and intentionally develop our relationship with Jesus, through Bible reading, prayer, worship, small group community and serving. The more we move toward and fall in love with Jesus, the more we desire to be like Him, and to do what pleases Him no matter who is looking or what they are thinking.