If there is one thing I’ve learned recently with my introduction to biblical counseling is that sin does not show itself out of the blue, the sin was always there but certain situations bring out what was going in our hearts. I definitely feel this with the fear of man.
All Christians to some degree will admit dealing with the fear of man. It is an almost inescapable reality, and there is no wonder why so much of the New Testament deals with this issue. Jesus deals with this issue many times himself, such as the following excerpt from the Sermon on the Mount:
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:1-4)
These words hit us hard because we desire to be praised by man rather than God. One of the greatest gifts of sanctification is weeding this out in our lives, and by the Spirit’s aid we are able to turn our orientation Godward.
One of the areas this sin has shown itself is in parenting. It was almost as if a switch turned on the moment my daughter was born that I was instantly taken with what others thought of my parenting. All of the sudden I started worrying that others would think less of me if my child misbehaved. In Christian circles there’s a temptation that if you don’t read the right book or attend the parenting conference you will miss out. It was an obvious indicator of where my heart was.
I’ve had to learn over the last two years how deal with this practically and biblically. Here are a few things that have helped me.
- I remind myself that only God will judge me in my parenting.
- Continually reminding myself of God’s presence and purpose in my life has been foundational.
- Being honest with my wife about this struggle has allowed her to help recognize when it’s a problem.
- Having other believers who I trust to speak into my life to encourage me in my parenting faithfulness. It’s also important to be in a church with strong families but resist the temptation to compare yourself to them or judge those who don’t fit your own ideals.
- I’ve had to remember that my children are unique and applying biblical principles of parenting might look different than others. I don’t want to provoke my children to anger due to my sin.
Here’s hoping by the grace of God I can fear Him more than man when taking care of these two stinkers!