Paul writes, “When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Galatians 2:11-14).
I have a great struggle with a particular sin that rears up every so often. It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but it still strikes me from time to time.
The fear of man.
For 35 years I’ve worked in media doing radio and TV programs, writing articles and doing public speaking. Very often I have been the center of attention. The response of the audience feeds me, it even electrifies me. But, when things go bad I feel terrible. Out of nervousness I sometimes don’t do the things that I should be doing. I’m afraid of what people might think.
In today’s passage we see Peter and Barnabas and certain others falling to the fear of man. They cared about what their contemporary countrymen thought of them. Fear of man reared its ugly head to such a degree that the truth of the Gospel was compromised. If not for the apostle Paul confronting Peter, who knows what may have happened?
Being mindful of what others think of us isn’t always a bad thing. We don’t want to disappoint others, especially the ones we love. But, when our fear causes us to shrink back from declaring the Gospel or compromising the truth, then we can know we are in trouble.
How does the fear of man strike you?
“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe” (Proverbs 29:25).
Who is there, whom you love, that you are afraid of sharing the Gospel with? What keeps you from expressing the love of Christ to them? Pray and ask the Lord to free you from the fear of man. Then make it a purpose to look for the right opportunity to share the truth with that person that you love.