Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.
Proverbs 29:25 (NIV)
God has shown me recently that I still have some work to do in the area of breaking free from the thoughts and opinions of others. Our heart and motives should be to please God, not man. The word of God tells us that when our ways are pleasing to the Lord, even our enemies will be at peace with us. (Proverbs 16:7)
God has gently put his finger on this area in me. Within the last few days, a circumstance arose with someone dear to me where I could sense that this person was offended with something I did or said. This person recently confirmed they were hurting – although I’m still not sure the exact circumstance that caused the wound. However, for several days, I allowed myself to be tied up in knots over this situation. Without my knowing, I was also allowing the enemy to rob me of the peace, joy, and freedom Christ died for and wants us to enjoy. He came to give us life, so that we could live it to the fullest.
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:10 (NIV)
I have searched my heart, and I could’t think of anything I had done or said that may have caused the offense. I even asked the Lord to forgive me, and show me if there was an area that I was overlooking. While it is good and biblical to allow the Lord to search our hearts, I believe the Lord showed me that the root issue that was causing me so much distress was the fear of being rejected by this person and that now they may think poorly of me.
Yes, it grieved my heart that I had possibly wounded this individual, but the bigger issue was that I was allowing the enemy to consume me and keep me in bondage to the fear of man.
I believe the Lord was showing me that my focus was too much on what others were thinking of me. When we have truly sinned or wronged someone, we should most definitely go to that person in a spirit of humility and seek to make things right. But the truth is, we cannot please everyone at all times, and we will wear ourselves out if we try.
I feel there needs to be a balance in the area of confrontation: Speaking the truth in love and showing grace.
Love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8 (NIV)
I believe, no matter what the circumstances may be, that the bottom line comes down to it being a matter of the heart.
I have had incidents in my own life where I had become hurt or wounded by someone close to me, even by someone who’s not close to me, and as I began to allow the Lord to do a work in me, He often revealed to me that because of my past experiences I was “programmed” to automatically think or believe the worst and also that I had built walls of protection for my defense. He went deeper to show me the person who I had allowed myself to get hurt by was not at all out to inflict harm. But because of my past issues, I had allowed the enemy to come in and distort truth, therefore believing the lie that the other person was intending to hurt me. This, however, was not at all the case.
I think the enemy tries to set traps for us – one of his primary ones is to sow discord among believers.
It is my prayer that God will help me – and anyone else who needs to free themselves from the opinions of others – to love more, not criticize or become easily offended, and to believe the best in others. As we continue to seek Him above all else, His love will shine through us. We can love others freely – without being captive to their thoughts and opinions. This is true and everlasting freedom.
Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)