Fear of Others
a synopsis of Exodus 2:11-3:22; 4:10-17
Moses, a Hebrew man who had been miraculously spared from slaughter by the Pharaoh when he was an infant, grew up in Pharaoh’s household. He knew that he was a Hebrew who had been rescued and adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter, and when he saw that a Hebrew slave was being beaten by an Egyptian, he became angry and killed that Egyptian. He thought no one had seen him, but the next day saw two Hebrews struggling. He asked why they would strike their companion. The one was quite bold, asking who did Moses think he was? Was he going to kill him too, just as he had killed the Egyptian the day before? It wasn’t long before Pharaoh heard of it and set out to kill Moses, his adopted grandson. So, Moses left Pharaoh’s court and went to the desert land of Midian. There he met his wife and began a family.
Forty years later the Pharaoh, and the burden upon the Hebrew slaves became far greater than it had been before. They cried out to God for deliverance. And God had a plan.
God spoke to Moses as he was leading his flock in the wilderness. God told Moses that he had seen the affliction of the Hebrews in Egypt, and was going to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians and take them to their promised land, the land that He had given to Abraham long, long before. He told Moses to go to Pharaoh and demand the release of the Hebrew slaves.
Moses made excuse after excuse to God, giving Him reasons why he shouldn’t be the one to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. First, he replied that he was no one special; why would Pharaoh listen to him? My guess is that he was afraid to have an audience with Pharaoh because of the Egyptians he had killed all those decades ago.
Then he was afraid that the people of Israel would not believe that God had truly sent him to deliver them. Probably intertwined with this was the fear of being mocked for his position.
Then he was afraid of his ability to speak. Maybe he had a speech impediment. Even after God promised to be right there by him, he still begged for someone else to be given the task. So, God gave Moses his brother, Aaron, to be his spokesman.
Moses’ fear kept him from fully experiencing the amazing plan that God wanted to work through him.
We can have some of these same fears today. We think, we might even know, others are smarter than we are. We fear we will perceived as stupid. But if God has called us to a task, we must realize that we know and understand things in unique ways that can help others.
We can be afraid that others have more wealth than we do, which in the eyes of many, seem to give them a greater level of credibility. That’s always been something in our lives. Most people in the States have far more wealth than we do.
We can be fearful that our skill set is not great enough, that others have better abilities than we do. We don’t want to appear incompetent. But we have skills that others don’t. And, if we are following God’s call on our lives, He will provide for the deficiencies.
But what is the underlying fear of these three things? It is the fear of what others will think of us. This is probably the most debilitating fear in this category. I don’t want to be looked down upon because I said or did something that someone considers inappropriate. So I just don’t do anything. This is not procrastination; this is debilitating fear. On a personal note, this is a fear I must fight as I pursue this project of writing about fear and overcoming it.
So, what is to be done?
First, recognize fear for what it is: fear.
Then I must overcome that fear, the most difficult part of this process. What is a Scripture passage that can help me overcome the fear of what others and what they think of me?
In 2 Timothy 1:3-7, the Apostle Paul reminded Timothy of his faith, his God-given gifts, and the calling God had placed on his life. Paul exhorted Timothy to stir these things up, to use them boldly. And then in verse 7, Paul reminds Timothy that, “. . . God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (ESV). The King James Version of the Bible uses “a sound mind” in the place of “self-control.”
It is, in that simple verse, the reminder that, as I live in faith, exercise my God-given gifts, and walk in the calling God has placed on my life, any fear I experience does NOT come from God. I shouldn’t live in that fear. I must press on and fulfill the calling God has on my life. Is it easy? Not usually! Nevertheless, God calls me to press on.