What Will People Think?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, October 4, 2014 2 comments

by Nathan Buck

“What will people think?” How many times a week do you ask that question of yourself or say it out loud to your family, friends, children, etc? Should we even be asking that question at all?

We have all felt the tendrils of fear mixed with stomach acid churning that comes when we know someone is mad at us, or we are about to face confrontation. Sometimes we have had it suddenly crash upon us and overwhelm us, when someone takes an unexpected opportunity to lob a grenade of years of frustration or offenses that they have stored up against us. It can be paralyzing to us. No matter how much we try to realize they may have been having a bad day, or may not have even meant half of what they just said, the truth of the matter is that we care and are impacted by every word they spoke.

How do we avoid being held hostage by what others think of us? How do we be humble ourselves and care for others, without being captive to anytime they disagree or choose to be offended by a choice or comment we make?

Take a moment to read Matthew 10:16-33. See what Jesus did there? He sent his followers out to share God’s love and grace, to heal the sick, to cast out demons, etc. They are on a great mission, and they should expect everyone to just embrace them right? Not according to what Jesus says next. Apparently, Jesus realizes that when people begin to live the truth and demonstrate God’s love, it will impact and dismantle the carefully created illusions, myths, lies, and personal protections that people create for themselves. Some do it for profit, some do it for a sense personal safety/security, and others are simply deceived by untruths and a captive to shame, lust, etc. And when truth enters those places, imprisoned people may be set free, but profitable or safe feeling people are suddenly uneasy.

Jesus knows that people will attack, argue, or belittle one another for all kinds of reasons. Where does he leave His disciples’ focus? What does He share with them to help them realize where their real concern should be?

Look at verses 26-33. Jesus changes the focus and the meaning of the word “fear” from a people based fear that tries to avoid conflict or threats, to a God based fear that is about awe, reverence, respect, and understanding that HE alone is the one who can do the most harm or the most good to any living creature. Notice how Jesus caps that refocusing. Instead of leaving with “fear God,” like we should cower and run and hide from his power cause he might fry us with a lightning bolt and destroy our soul, He leaves it with an expression of God’s compassion.

He reminds them that God knows them and cares about even the hairs on their heads (if you are bald, God still cares about you). Jesus finishes the thought with a play on the word “fear.” He remind his followers that they should not be “afraid” (terror or alarm) of people or any circumstance because God loves them, by re-using the same word “fear” in a different context. The first context when he talks about fearing God it is about worship and reverence, and the second – when he tells them not to be afraid – is about being scared or terrified.

Let that thought sink in for a moment. You don’t need to be afraid of what people think, because God’s opinion of you and His care for you matters more than any earthly relationship. Now that doesn’t mean you ignore negative feedback from people – because you may have legitimately acted like a jerk, or mistakenly said a hurtful thing. And it is good to check your motives and learn from when others point out your mistakes. If you are a follower of Jesus, you should be mature or maturing to be able to take negative feedback or confrontation from others and grow with it. You should also never let someone’s opinion or offense toward you define your worth, direction, or decisions – those are reserved only for God.

Check out the other blogs coming this week as they continue to discussion on “fear of people.”


Bob Sorensen said...

This is a good article and the points needed to be made. I reckon that some people live their lives trying to impress others or worrying about what they think. ("That woman in the grocery store looked at me funny, and I saw later that my shirt was stained. Wonder what she thought of me?" Really healthy to be concerned about the opinion of someone you'll never see again and probably forgot about you within seconds, too.) God's opinion is the one that matters.

It's interesting that I've been working on an article that is scheduled to be posted a week from today that has a similar subject. I'm going to put a link to this article in there.

Bob Sorensen said...

Update: I did put a link to this article in mine, which was scheduled to publish today. Sorry that it's at the end, but on the other hand, it helped strengthen my conclusion.