“The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25). Many Christians roll their eyes in disbelief at some of the different religions in the world that worship many gods. They cannot imagine bowing down to a large statue of Buddha or praying to the thirty-three gods of the Vedas in the Hindu religion. It appears strange to see someone bring food to a god that is half human and half animal chiseled from stone.
Yet, without realizing it, some people who claim to keep God’s commandments are breaking the first law of the Decalogue: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). When we place anything or anyone above our supreme loyalty to God, we make that object or person a god. When we try to make something or someone fulfill in our lives only what the Creator of heaven and earth can satisfy, we have placed that person or thing in the position of God in our lives.
Most Christians would be quick to agree that we can make objects (like our cars, jobs, money, and food) into idols. And they would also consent that movie stars and sports heroes shouldn’t stand in the place of God. But, perhaps, they may not realize how quickly they bow down in fear to other people in their everyday lives.
When a parent is so obsessed with gaining the approval and affection of their child that they are willing to compromise Bible principles, they make their son or daughter a god. If they are fearful of disciplining them, drawing boundaries, or saying ‘no’ to the detriment of the child, they have replaced the God of heaven with their son or daughter.
Spouses can expect each other to fulfill the deepest needs in their hearts that only God can fulfill. Some spend their lives trying to extract from a husband or wife all the missing pieces of their heart (perhaps from childhood trauma) that can never be healed except by God alone. Students can view teachers in exaggerated ways that make them into demi-gods. Employees can try to please employers to the detriment of their health or spiritual lives.
There is obviously a balance in how we view each other. It is certainly not wrong to try to please your boss or make your spouse happy. The problem arises when we cross the line from appreciating affection or affirmation and demanding it to the point where we turn from our true Source of love and expect it to all come from another human being.
Anything or anyone that comes “before” God has violated a command that will ultimately lead to death. When we properly fear God, as our text above states, we can be assured of being kept safe.