Lesson 1: The Fear Of Man Leads To Bondage

You're reading EXODUS: LESSONS IN FREEDOM, by Eric Elder, featuring fifty inspiring devotionals based on one of the most dramatic, yet practical books in the Bible. Also available in paperback and eBook formats in our bookstore for a donation of any size!

You’re reading EXODUS: LESSONS IN FREEDOM, by Eric Elder, featuring fifty inspiring devotionals based on one of the most dramatic, yet practical books in the Bible. Also available in paperback and eBook formats in our bookstore for a donation of any size!

Scripture Reading: Exodus 1:1-14

Could it be that your greatest weakness is actually your greatest strength?

A man came up to me after I spoke at a men’s breakfast and said, “Hi Eric, do you remember me?”  I strained to put a name with his face, but couldn’t do it.  When he told me his name, an image from high school immediately flashed across my mind.

We were both freshmen playing flag football in gym class when he got in the way of a senior.  This senior knocked my friend to the ground and started pummeling him in the face with his fist.  I watched my friend’s head bounce up and down on the ground with each pounding.

Why would someone pummel my friend like that?  My friend was a big kid, but a nice kid.  Even though he hadn’t done anything wrong, his sheer size made him appear to be a threat.  The pummeling had its effect:  my friend never got in this senior’s way again, and I made sure I didn’t either!

Unfortunately, my friend walked away feeling weak and beaten down when in reality, it was his sheer strength that drew the fire in the first place.  When people are fearful of us, or we’re fearful of them, it often leads to bondage.  Something similar happened to the Israelites.  Back in the days of Moses, when the nation of Israel started to grow while they were living in Egypt, the king of Egypt saw their strength and got scared:

“Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become much too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country” (Exodus 1:9-10). 

The Israelites were immediately enslaved.  For the next 400 years, they were treated as the lowest of the low in Egypt.  I’m sure they felt worthless, worn-out and weak.  But in reality, it was their great strength that caused the fearful king to put them into bondage.  Although they may have felt like the weakest nation on earth, do you remember what God said about them?  He called them His “chosen” people, His “treasured possession,” and promised that they would become “a great nation.” (Deuteronomy 7:6 and Genesis 12:2).  This was their destiny.  This was their calling.  A destiny and calling that the king foresaw and tried to stop.

I got spiritually pummeled a few years ago after speaking as a guest at a local church.  I thought the regular pastor would be thrilled when he came back to hear that half a dozen people had put their faith in Christ that day for the very first time.  Instead, I got an extremely harsh letter from him a few weeks later saying that one of those people had started going to another church (she wanted to go to a Bible study and her church didn’t have one).  He blamed me for her leaving and made it clear that he wanted nothing to do with me or my ministry ever again.

For the next few days, I felt like I’d gotten the wind knocked out of me.  I felt like I never wanted to speak at another church again.  This man was not only an influential pastor in the community, but he was also the president of the minister’s association in town.  But then God reminded me of my calling, my purpose in life, and what He said about me.  I was able to shake off the fear of man and stand tall again in the calling of God.  That pastor eventually invited me to speak again at his church, and I eventually became president of the minister’s association!  🙂

But the fear of man almost derailed me from God’s plan for my life.  I began to look at other areas of my life where I felt weak to see if those areas might really be strengths instead.

Do you feel weak, pummeled or beaten down in certain areas of your life? Could it be that some of those areas might actually be some of your greatest strengths?

Don’t let the fear of man keep you down.  Ask God what He says about you, your gifts and your calling.  Listen to what He says and He will set you free.

Want to learn more? You can watch a podcast with more discussion about this topic below.

Watch “The Fear Of Man Leads To Bondage”

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