Proverbs 29:25 - "The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe."
The fear of man is stealthy. It lays a snare. It's like an ambush and a bear trap. Like an ambush, it lays in the quiet moments...when you're alone...trying to sleep...trying to pray. Once you're in range, it springs to action, repeatedly replaying your recent words and conversations. It pulls up the mental DVR of seemingly unsettling responses from others: an odd expression, a lack of conversation, an unmet expectation.
And like a bear trap, it has teeth. Large, sharp teeth. Teeth that will do damage. Here are three 'teeth' in the snare - torture, deception, and amnesia.
TORTURE - The fear of man will torture you with what could have been different. What you could have said differently, what you could have done differently. It drives you insane thinking of what might have saved or secured the good opinion of others.
DECEPTION - The fear of man will deceive you, especially regarding the thoughts and motives of others. Rather than loving others by believing all things (1 Cor. 13:7), you'll assume the worst. You'll fear that others disapprove of you or don't care about you. You may even end a relationship on the basis of such deception.
AMNESIA - The fear of man so focuses your mind on the wrong things that you forget what is true. You forget that God's opinion is supreme. You forget that His opinion has been irrevocably declared in Christ. And you forget that His glory, not the opinion of others, is now your motive for living.
Yes, repent of known sin in your relationships. Yes, rebuke the sin of others, and be ready to forgive. But beware the fear of man! It is a harsh master. Don't give yourself to it.
When People Are Big and God is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and Peer Pressure
Ed Welch [available in the GRBC QT Cafe]
What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care?: Answers to the Big Questions of Life
Peer Pressure: Recognizing Warning Signs and Giving New Direction [booklet]
Paul David Tripp [available in the GRBC QT Cafe]