Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The fear of man brings a snare

The fear of man has brought a snare to some of the greatest believers who have ever lived; and any child of God, whenever he fears the face of man, loses some of the dignity which appertains to that relationship. What a grand man Abraham was! Whenever I read his life I look up to him with astonishment and wish I had such faith as would make me resemble him in that respect. He marches across the page of history with such quiet stately dignity that kings and princes are dwarfed beside his great figure. How nobly did he say to the king of Sodom, “I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, lest thou shouldest say I have made Abram rich;” but oh, how small did he look when he said to Abimelech concerning his wife, “She is my sister.” She was his sister in a sense; there was some truth in what he said, but she was more than his sister so he was uttering a falsehood, for which he was rightly rebuked by the heathen prince.

You have in David another instance of how the fear of man can bring the mighty down. How brave he is as he goes out to slay Goliath, and how grandly he behaves when twice he spares the life of his sleeping enemy! Yet see him there at Gath when the servants of Achish frightened him so that he “feigned himself mad in their hands, and scrabbled on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down upon his beard.” The fear of man had brought down Israel’s future monarch to drivel like a madman.

Equally sad is the case of Elijah, that grandest of men, as I may truly call him. You see him in his grandeur as he cries “Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape;” and as he brings them down to the brook Kishon and slays them there, and then as he goes to the top of Carmel and prays till the rain descends upon the parched land. Yet after the excitement is over he is afraid of a woman, Jezebel, and the great Elias shrinks down into a frightened man who runs away and cries, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am not better than my fathers.” So you see that “the fear of man bringeth a snare” even to the best of men; it drags them down from their high places and hurls them into the dust. Therefore may God preserve us from it!

From a sermon delivered on March 29, 1874

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