Do You Fear Men or God?
MANY persons worry about what men will think. If they can do something wrong without men’s seeing them they do it. Jehovah God sees it, but that is not seriously considered. They worry if men find out, but are indifferent about God. How twisted this is! They want to appear good in the eyes of men, yet are unconcerned with their appearance in the eyes of God. Men do not really count; God does. Why is it such a human failing to fear men and forget God?
Perhaps they think God will be more merciful and understanding concerning their weakness and will forgive, whereas men would not be so lenient. More likely in such cases it is the thought that if men do not know they will not suffer punishment for their wrong. Ecclesiastes 8:11-13 (AT) says: “Because the sentence upon an evil deed is not quickly executed, therefore the minds of the sons of men are fully determined to do evil. Even though a sinner does wrong a hundred times and still continues living, yet I know that it shall be well with those who fear God, who are in awe before him; but it shall not be well with the wicked, nor shall he prolong his life like a shadow, since he is not awed in the presence of God.” Men should be more awed by the thought of God’s seeing their evil than by the fear of men’s seeing it.
In Jesus’ day the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees concentrated on outward appearances to look good to men, but did not worry over their inward filth that God saw. Jesus said to them: “You cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of plunder and immoderateness.” In Ezekiel’s day the evil-doers reasoned: “Jehovah seeth us not; Jehovah hath forsaken the land.” They were the same a hundred and fifty years earlier, in Isaiah’s time: “Woe unto them that hide deep their counsel from Jehovah, and whose works are in the dark, and that say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?”—Matt. 23:25, NW; Ezek. 8:12; Isa. 29:15, AS.
Jehovah sees our deeds, whether good or bad, and rewards for them in his own time. Hypocrites, while hiding their evil works from men, trumpet abroad any good they do to be sure men notice, “that they may be glorified by men.” “They are having their reward in full,” Jesus said. He advised his followers to make their gifts of mercy and to do their religious services quietly and without fanfare, and “then your Father who is looking on in secrecy will repay you.” Men who fear men hide their evil from men but make a show of their good deeds to be sure men will observe and applaud.—Matt. 6:2-4, 16-18, NW.
“The fear of man bringeth a snare,” but “the fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge.” Sometimes even true Christians, in their fleshly weakness, catch themselves doing what is wrong because they are unseen by men and hence free from censure or punishment by men. If we shall not suffer for our acts right now we sometimes are strongly tempted to do them, not always looking into the more distant future when we shall be accountable to Jehovah for them. God, not men, is the one to fear, for that will mark the beginning of the knowledge that will guide us right and gain us life.—Prov. 29:25; 1:7, AS.