~ by Kasey Van Norman
The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. — Proverbs 29:25 ESV
The Hebrew word for “snare” in this passage is the same as “trap,” which is used for hunting and catching.
Think about that word picture for a moment. A good trap, one intended to catch something, is designed with much skill by the hunter, often camouflaged and hiding in plain sight. Also, a trap is designed to lure, using something desirable as bait to draw in its victim. Finally, a trap closes shut around its prey, but oftentimes only wounding it without outright killing it. The trap will give just enough freedom for its prey to flail, claw, and fight without being released, leaving the prey to exhaust itself into a paralyzed state.
This is what it feels like to lie in Satan’s snare.
The trap, personalized for our behaviors and built with much time and expertise, creates the illusion of security, the feeling that life inside the trap is safe, predictable, controlled.
The bait: praise of man. The one lure so irresistible that we rarely notice the subtle shift from our serving for God’s glory to securing that glory for ourselves.
We don’t realize that the scent of earning, performing, or striving should tell us the trap is near.
We feel the sting when its jaws clamp hard on our souls whenever our lives enter extremes; we become like wounded animals, flailing in the highs and lows of self-preservation. Highs like overeating, overtalking, overcommitting, overspending, over- spiritualizing. Lows like isolation, mind-numbing consumption of media, mind-altering addiction, self-pity, apathy toward important relationships and events.
- Bondage always reveals itself in the extremes of our lives, behaviorally and emotionally.
To be clear, fear is normal. We all experience it. God equipped our brains with self-preservation instincts to warn us of danger or harm. If a car barrels toward us, we should be scared and run away. If a relationship is verbally or physically abusive, fear should push us to seek help. If we remember the compromise we made that one night, fear of painful consequences teaches us not to do that stupid thing again.
Reasonable short-lived fear is a survival gift from God. But fear of the rejection or judgment of man will destroy us.This is why God tells us that
fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. — 1 John 4:18 ESV
God offers us a perfect love, a love without condition. Because His love needs nothing from us, it is perfect. When we receive His love, we are free to love others perfectly, without need. Attempting to love or to receive love from others without first receiving God’s perfect love will always end badly for us.
This is why rejection, abandonment, neglect, or distancing because we cannot meet a standard feels like punishment, like death.
Want to test me on this?
Think of a time when your love was rejected because you could not meet another’s spoken or unspoken expectation. Think about that person who always seems to need something from you — an acknowledgment, an invitation, an apology, attention, your living on their terms.
Do these relationships feel light and free, or heavy and hindered? Do you find yourself drawing near to these people, or do you try your best to avoid them without hurting their feelings?
Maybe you’ve experienced this in a parent-child relationship when it feels like you can never do enough to earn favor. Or perhaps in a dating or spousal relationship when your partner’s insecurities feel so vast that you cannot possibly fill them, even on your best day.
The conditions we build for love lurk in both the intentional and the unintentional: a passive-aggressive comment, a shift in tone or posture, a sudden or slow withdrawal, faking it, withholding affection to maintain control, or giving affection to get what we want.
Conditional love sucks, and it sucks the life out of us and others. People punish us whenever they serve their love with a side of expectation. And we punish others whenever we serve our love with a side of contingency plan.
We may be giving them our best selves, all of our honesty, affection, and energy. But we give unconditional love only when we release them from our expectations.
Unconditional, perfect love is rare because of the enormous amount of self-assessment and self-denial it requires. To love others as God loves us demands daily, sometimes hourly, self-examination of motive and intent, a constant self-check that we have not stumbled back into our security snares.
Perfect love is all we want in life, yet giving and receiving it doesn’t come naturally to us. To receive it, we must never stop asking ourselves hard things. To give it, we must stop asking such hard things of others.
Acceptance, vulnerability, trust, no expectations, no games. This is what we want from people — to feel safe with our love and honesty. To confess our worst-case scenario without being rejected and to say out loud the worst thing we’ve ever done without it being used against us.
But we will never find complete safety in people.
Humans are not designed to carry each others’ weight like this. Contrary to one of my favorite lines from the movie Jerry Maguire, you do not complete me.
Human relationships are designed to disappoint us. They are a setup by God to lead us right where He wants us: to the end of ourselves and others.
Excerpted with permission from Nothing Wasted by Kasey Van Norman, copyright Kasey Van Norman.
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Oh how we need God’s grace! For ourselves and for others. We will always disappoint and be disappointed, won’t we? So, we need to be filled with His supernatural grace and let it pour from us freely onto others. Come share your thoughts on how snares lead us to Jesus. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily