“For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision.” (Galatians 2:12)
The Bible tells us here that Peter was motivated by fear: “fearing those from the circumcision.” Many of us recognize that fear — fear of a party of people whom you are seeking not to offend, or seeking to impress. But Paul shows us here that such a fear is destructive to us and others.
Proverbs 29:25 tells us: “The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.” Such was the case here in Galatians. His fear of the Judaizers led Peter to do something that he shouldn’t have done: withdraw from fellowship with the Gentiles, which led to division, and theological misunderstanding and wrong practice in his church. Paul had to eventually call him out for it (:14).
Our fears will lead to similar mistakes. If we are held back by the fear of men there are truths we will not teach God’s people; there are ministries we will hesitate to begin; there are missions we will never embark on. And just as in Peter’s case; the damage this does is not limited to us, but influences many other people as well.
The remedy for the fear of men is to learn the fear of GOD! Jesus said: “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear HIM who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28) May God become so real to us, that we only act out of fear of HIM, and not any man or group of men. For “the fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.”